Africa: Do What Science Demands 'Before It Is Too Late', Secretary-General Stresses in Statement on Special Global Warming Report

A farmer points to some of the banana trees dotting the steep hillsides in villages in Anjouan that used to burst with fruit but are struggling or dying due to changing weather and soil erosion.
press release

Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ statement on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on global warming of 1.5°C:

Earlier today the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its long-awaited special report on global warming of 1.5°C.  This report by the world’s leading climate scientists is an ear-splitting wake-up call to the world.  It confirms that climate change is running faster than we are — and we are running out of time.

We see the consequences all around us — more extreme weather, rising sea levels, diminishing Arctic sea ice.  The scientists paint the most vivid picture we have ever had between a temperature rise of 1.5°C versus 2°C.  A half of a degree of warming makes a world of difference.  It means more heat waves for tens of millions of people.  Far greater species loss.  Increased water scarcity in some of the world’s most unstable regions.  A 10-fold increase in Arctic ice-free summers.  And a total wipe-out of the world’s coral reefs.

At the same time, the report shows that it is still possible to limit warming to 1.5°C.  However, that will require urgent and far more ambitious action to cut emissions by half by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050.  This will take unprecedented changes in all aspects of society — especially in key sectors such as land, energy, industry, buildings, transport and cities.

Specifically, we need to end deforestation and plant billions of trees; drastically reduce the use of fossil fuels and phase out coal by 2050; ramp up installation of wind and solar power; invest in climate-friendly sustainable agriculture; and consider new technologies such as carbon capture and storage.

The coming period is critical.  We must meet the Paris commitments to bend the emissions curve by 2020.  The December United Nations Climate Conference in Katowice, Poland, is a can’t-fail moment.  The international community must emerge with critically important implementation guidelines for operationalizing the Paris Agreement.

I urge all countries to make the Katowice Climate Conference a success and heed the counsel of the world’s top scientists:  raise ambition, rapidly strengthen their national climate action plans, and urgently accelerate implementation of the Paris Agreement.  We must rise to the challenge of climate action and do what science demands before it is too late.

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