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UN chief warns of "existential threat" of climate change at world summit

UN chief warns of

None of the world's challenges hangs over climate change, the United Nations chief said at a major climate action summit, reiterating his belief that global warming poses an "existential threat" to humanity.

Both leadership and innovation were essential to climate action, Secretary General António Guterres said in his keynote address to the global gathering, known as Austria's R20 World Summit.

The summit is a long-term initiative to help regions, states, and cities implement the Sustainable Development Goals and meet the climate goals of the United Nations-sponsored Paris Agreement.

Mr. Guterres said: "We must use all our resources to create a sense of urgency", to increase ambition, while maintaining temperature increases in the coming years, as close to 1.5 degrees Celsius as possible.

He said there were reasons to wait and declared that "the world is seeing a stream of climate action."

Guterres cited examples, such as the construction in Morocco of a solar farm "the size of Paris, which will power more than a million homes by 2020" and China's achievement of approving its 2020 target of producing 105 gigawatts (GW) of capacity. of solar energy.

"We must build on this," emphasized the UN chief, calling for renewable energy, which already produces one fifth of the world's electricity, energy that also offers significant health benefits.

The World Health Organization reports that more than 80 percent of people living in urban areas are exposed to poor quality air that damages human health.

"Investments in clean and green infrastructure must be scaled up on a global scale," he explained.

"For that, we need the leadership of the finance and investment community and of local, regional and national governments that will decide on the main infrastructure plans in the coming years."

Mr. Guterres encouraged private sector leaders to attend the UN General Assembly-backed summit in the Austrian capital to announce new funding for clean energy projects.

While the independent 30-member International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that 2017 investments in renewable electricity totaled $ 242 billion, the UN chief said, that was still far less than the funds invested in the development of new fossil fuels.

Billions of dollars need to be invested in renewable energy if the world were to see a “large-scale transition to clean energy” by 2020, Mr. Guterres said.

Furthermore, 75% of the necessary infrastructure has yet to be built by 2050.

"Mobilizing and equipping local governments with the capacity and financing to accelerate climate action is necessary if we want to bend the emissions curve," he said.

Noting that climate change continues to move faster than climate action, Mr. Guterres quoted the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as saying: “The more we disrupt our climate, the more we risk serious, widespread impacts. and irreversible ”.

“But,” he added, “it doesn't have to be this way,” pointing to cutting-edge solar, wind and technologies such as electric vehicles or power from seaweed in the ocean, promising a new era of clean air.

"Let us join a race to the top, a race in which there are only winners," concluded the Secretary General.

Original article (in English)

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