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article image'Nature is angry,' and the UN climate summit calls for action now

By Karen Graham     Sep 19, 2019 in Environment
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he is banking on new pledges from governments and businesses to abandon fossil fuels during a special climate summit in New York on Monday.
The globe has seen a summer of heatwaves, forest fires, and tropical cyclones and UN Secretary-General António Guterres, in an interview with Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets, said: “Governments always follow public opinion, everywhere in the world, sooner or later."
“And so … we need to keep telling the truth to people and be confident that the political system, especially democratic political systems, will in the end deliver." U.N. officials expect about 60 countries to build on their commitments to the 2015 Paris Agreement to combat global warming.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will likely re-state four key demands on September 23  2019: q...
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will likely re-state four key demands on September 23, 2019: quit new coal by 2020, achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, deliver enhanced climate plans next year and end fossil fuel subsidies
Fabrice COFFRINI, AFP/File
The lead up to the Climate Summit on September 23 in New York has seen Swedish teen Greta Thunberg and other activists piling pressure on delegates, culminating in a world-wide climate strike on Friday.
According to a draft schedule of the meeting seen by Reuters, delegates will be hearing from small island states most vulnerable to sea-level rise and European nations such as France and Germany.
Large economies that still build or finance coal plants – such as Japan, South Korea, and Australia - are not due to speak - but may introduce mitigation plans.
"Don’t bring a speech – bring a plan," Guterres famously told heads of state and government in the months leading up to this summit - and that is exactly what he wants to hear nations discussing.
Low-lying Pacific island nations such as the Marshall Islands are threatened by rising seas and stor...
Low-lying Pacific island nations such as the Marshall Islands are threatened by rising seas and storms that have become more powerful and regular due to climate change
GIFF JOHNSON, AFP/File
This means that nations with a plan are the only ones who will be allowed to take the stage. To this end, a country had to commit to doing one of three things, said UN officials:
1. be carbon neutral by 2050;
2. “significantly” increase how much it will cut emissions or make a “meaningful” pledge to the Green Climate Fund, a pool of money provided by wealthy countries to help developing countries leave fossil fuels behind.
3. increase their resilience against climate disruption.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, among the world’s only global leaders that publicly question climate science, are not due to take part. Guterres refused to comment on Donald Trump and the Trump administration’s hostility to climate action.
However, a CBS News poll released on September 15 found that 69 percent of Americans want the next president to take action, while 53 percent say such action is needed “right now."
Pacific islands have criticised Australia for not doing enough to rein in its reliance on coal
Pacific islands have criticised Australia for not doing enough to rein in its reliance on coal
WILLIAM WEST, AFP/File
Guterres did say that “it would be much better” if the US was “strongly committed to climate action." Until then, he said, “what I want is to have the whole society putting pressure on governments to understand they need to run faster. Because we are losing the race.”
Coal is in the crosshairs
Guterres has called for an end to the construction of new coal plants by the end of 2020. He would also like to see a rapid shift to renewables - as well as a transition away from subsidizing fossil fuels, something that many financial institutions and funds have already started doing.
Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg joins protest outside UN
Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg joins protest outside UN
Bryan Smith, AFP
Guterres and other UN officials would also like to see China stop backing the construction of more coal plants in Asia and Africa through its “Belt and Road” infrastructure vision. “I am much more concerned for countries in Africa that need to have the option not to get into coal. They need to have more opportunity for renewables,” U.N. climate change envoy Luis Alfonso de Alba told Reuters in an interview.
There will also be speakers from the private sector at the summit, including the chief executive of Danish power company Orsted, which earlier this year divested from its oil and gas assets and shuttered its coal plants.
A lot is depending on the outcome of the climate summit next week. Are we going to join together and do something constructive for the future of our children and future generations?
As Guterres said after visiting Bermuda in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, “Nature is angry." And this should lead the nations of the world to ask - “What is the cost of the consequences of taking no action?”
More about UN Climate summit, Fossil fuels, losing the fight, Climate crisis, bring a plan
 
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