KATOWICE: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sought to rescue deeply troubled climate talks in Poland, warning the battle against global warming is a “matter of life and death today.”
The two-week talks are tasked with breathing life into the 2015 Paris Agreement, which vows to cap global warming at “well under” two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and 1.5C if possible.
But efforts to elaborate a “rule book” for the Paris pact and boost the carbon-cutting pledges have hit a wall, even as a barrage of scientific reports have warned that only immediate and radical measures can avert even more catastrophic extreme weather.
“The key political issues remain unresolved,” Guterres told ministers and diplomats only 48 hours before the 195-nation meeting in the Polish city of Katowice, in the heart of coal country.
“To waste this opportunity would compromise our last best chance to stop runaway climate change,” he said. “It would not only be immoral, it would be suicidal.”
The Paris pact is also meant to funnel hundreds of billions of dollars to poor countries already feeling the sting of deadly storms, heatwaves and droughts made worse by climate change.
Scientists have concluded that such impacts are already unmistakable with only 1C of warming so far.
“The eyes of the world are upon us,” said Guterres, who had not planned to return after addressing the opening plenary 10 days ago but came back to push for progress.
A major scientific report called for by the UN climate body concluded in October that Earth’s rise in temperature must be capped even lower – at 1.5C – to avoid the danger of runaway warming.