The United Nations Secretary-General called the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “a litany of broken climate promises” showing the world is “on a fast track to climate disaster.”
In a video message, António Guterres said the report “is a file of shame, cataloguing the empty pledges that put us firmly on track towards an unlivable world.” According to the new publication, the planet is on a pathway to global warming of more than double the 1.5-degree limit agreed in Paris. “Some government and business leaders are saying one thing – but doing another. Simply put, they are lying. And the results will be catastrophic,” said Guterres.
The UN chief remembered the last UN Climate Conference, COP26, that happened in Glasgow in November 2021, saying the international community left the meeting “with a naïve optimism, based on new promises and commitments.” Despite those efforts, Guterres said, the main problem – the enormous, growing emissions gap – was all but ignored. To keep the 1.5-degree limit agreed in Paris within reach, the world needs to cut global emissions by 45 per cent this decade.
Despite this target, current climate pledges would mean a 14 per cent increase in emissions. Guterres noted that “climate activists are sometimes depicted as dangerous radicals”, but, for him, “the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels.” “Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness. Such investments will soon be stranded assets – a blot on the landscape, and a blight on investment portfolios,” he warned.
Today’s report is focused on mitigation, and sets out viable, financially sound options in every sector that can keep the possibility of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees alive. First and foremost, the international community must triple the speed of the shift to renewable energy.
The Secretary-General noted that in most cases, renewables are already far cheaper. According to him, the shift also means “governments ending the funding of coal, not just abroad, but at home.” It means climate coalitions, made up of developed countries, multilateral development banks, private financial institutions, and corporations, supporting major emerging economies in making this shift.
Noting that “leaders must lead”, but that everyone can do their part, Guterres said the world owes “a debt to young people, civil society and indigenous communities for sounding the alarm and holding leaders accountable.”
The UN chief stressed that today’s report comes at a time of global turbulence, with inequalities at unprecedented levels and the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is scandalously uneven.
On top of that, inflation is rising, and the war in Ukraine is causing food and energy prices to skyrocket. But, according to Guterres, increasing fossil fuel production will only make matters worse. Instead, he said, “a shift to renewables will mend our broken global energy mix and offer hope to millions of people suffering climate impacts today.”