UN chief: Window to avert devasting climate impacts ‘rapidly closing’



No region is immune to climate disasters the UN chief told the Security Council on Thursday, warning that “our window of opportunity” to prevent the worst climate impacts is “rapidly closing”.


Drawing attention to the “deeply alarming” report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last month, Secretary-General António Guterres spelled out that “much bolder climate action is needed” to maintain international peace and security.


He urged the G20 industrialized nations to step up and drive action before the UN Climate Conference (COP26) in early November.


‘Risk multipliers’


Against the backdrop of wildfires, flooding, droughts and other extreme weather events, the UN chief said that “no region is immune”.


And he pointed out that the climate crisis is “particularly profound” with compounded by fragility and conflict.


Describing climate change and environmental mismanagement as “risk multipliers”, he explained that last year, climate-related disasters displaced more than 30 million people and that 90 per cent of refugees come from countries least able to adapt to the climate crisis.


Many of these refugees are hosted by States also suffering the impacts of climate change, “compounding the challenge for host communities and national budgets”, Mr. Guterres told ambassadors, adding that the COVID pandemic is also undermining governments’ ability to respond to climate disasters and build resilience.


Prioritizing actions


Maintaining that “it is not too late to act”, the top UN official highlighted three “absolute priorities”, beginning with capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius.


To avert catastrophic climate impacts, he urged all Member States to up their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – plans through which countries commit to increasingly ambitious climate action – before COP26 and to translate those commitments into “concrete and immediate action”.

“Collectively, we need a 45 per cent cut in global emissions by 2030”, he said.


‘Forgotten half’


To address the dire impacts of climate disruption, Mr. Guterres stressed the need for adaptation and resilience, which he maintaine