Tue, Dec 03, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Choose hope or surrender: Guterres

AFP, MADRID

Front row from left, Chilean Minister of Environment Carolina Schmidt, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres gather yesterday with several heads of state for a group photograph at the UN Climate Change Conference COP25 at the IFEMA - Feria de Madrid exhibition center.

Photo: AFP

Confronted with a climate crisis threatening civilization itself, humanity must choose between hope and surrender, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the opening plenary of a UN climate conference in Madrid yesterday.

“One is the path of surrender, where we have sleepwalked past the point of no return, jeopardizing the health and safety of everyone on this planet,” Guterres said. “Do we really want to be remembered as the generation that buried its head in the sand, that fiddled while the planet burned?”

The summit, which was moved to Madrid after Chile had to pull out amid anti-government protests, aims to finalize the rules governing the 2015 Paris accord.

In his appeal, Guterres cited new findings from the World Meterological Organization (WMO) confirming that the past five years have been the hottest ever recorded.

Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have also reached levels not seen in 3 to 5 million years, the WMO is scheduled to report this week.

“The last time there was a comparable concentration, the temperature was 2 to 3 degrees Celsius warmer, and sea levels were 10 to 20 meters higher than today,” Guterres said.

In a separate forum moments earlier, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the “COP25” conference that the world could still count on the US despite US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris accord.

“We’re here to say to all of you, on behalf of the House of Representatives and the Congress ... we’re still in it,” Pelosi said.

Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine told the forum of heads of state from climate-vulnerable nations via a remote video link that breaching the 1.5°C barrier would spell the end of her homeland.

“The most vulnerable atoll nations like my country already face death row” due to rising seas and devastating storm surges, she said.

The Madrid talks are focused on finalizing rules for global carbon markets, and setting up a fund to help countries hit by climate-enhanced heatwaves, droughts, floods and storms.

Additional reporting by AP

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