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article imageWorld is losing its 'political will' to fight climate change

By Karen Graham     May 12, 2019 in Environment
Wellington - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres launched a brief South Pacific tour in New Zealand Sunday, warning the world was "not on track" to limiting global temperature rises.
Guterres was in New Zealand Sunday - kicking off a tour of South Pacific nations, ahead of a UN climate change summit in New York in September. His tour will also take him to Fiji, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu which are under threat from rising sea levels.
The climate action summit at the UN in September is being billed as the last chance to prevent irreversible climate change, three years after the Paris agreement went into force.
In a joint press conference in Auckland with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Guterres said the political will to fight climate change seems to be fading at the same time as things are getting worse for those feeling the effects, reports CBC Canada.
"We are seeing everywhere a clear demonstration that we are not on track to achieve the objectives defined in the Paris agreement," Guterres said on the failure to limit rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial revolution levels.
"Climate change is running faster than what we are ... the last four years have been the hottest registered. We cannot allow for runaway climate change," he said. "We need to protect the lives of our people and we need to protect our planet."
He did praise New Zealand's "extremely important" leadership on climate change -- Wellington has introduced legislation to become carbon neutral by 2050. Ardern called climate change "the biggest challenge" facing the international community and said it would be "gross negligence" to avoid the issue.
While in New Zealand, Guterres will be meeting with Muslim leaders in Christchurch to show solidarity following the March 15 massacre in which 51 people were killed by a lone gunman who attacked two mosques during Friday prayers.
The future of the planet hinges on political will
What is political will? The Oxford Dictionary defines it as the intention or desire, but specifically "the firm intention or commitment on the part of a government to carry through a policy, especially one which is not immediately successful or popular."
We could go further in this definition by suggesting that political will is also defined as being tied to - and part of - the will of the majority of the people. And in the United States, opinions on climate change are partially defined by politics and regional differences in state policies, according to Gallup.
And all this is especially critical to the world because of US resistance to discuss climate change at other forums including the G7 and G20, and again last week at a meeting of the Arctic Council in Finland. Perhaps, this is why Guterres has told leaders to bring plans, not speeches to the summit in September.
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