UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the world to “declare a state of climate emergency” by opening a videoconference summit on Saturday intended to relaunch efforts to combat global warming, five years after the ‘Paris Agreement.
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“Today I call on world leaders to declare a state of climate emergency in their country until carbon neutrality is achieved,” said Antonio Guterres.
Five years ago, the international community pledged to contain global warming “significantly” below + 2 ° C, and if possible +1.5 ° C, compared to the pre-industrial era.
But the commitments to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions made by the various countries “were not sufficient” and “were not respected”, underlined Mr. Guterres, before recalling that it is necessary to “reduce global emissions by 45% by 2030 compared to 2010 levels”.
Dozens of heads of state and government including French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping are due to show their ambitions to fight global warming on Saturday.
Representatives of companies like Apple, civil society and indigenous peoples are also expected to attend the summit organized by the United Nations, the United Kingdom and France, in partnership with Chile and Italy.
With less than a year before the COP26 to be held in November 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland, the UN Secretary General urged them “to show ambition, to stop the blows to our planet, and to do what is necessary to guarantee the future of our children and our grandchildren ”.
Before the summit, several states announced ambitious plans to reduce their GHG emissions. On Friday, the 27 EU countries agreed to reduce their emissions by “at least 55%” by 2030 compared to the 1990 level, against -40% previously, in order to achieve neutrality by 2050 carbon.
China, the world’s largest polluter, recently announced its intention to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, while President-elect Joe Biden pledged the United States to achieve this goal by 2050 .
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that the UK will stop “as soon as possible” financially supporting fossil fuel projects abroad. The UK government has also pledged to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 68% by 2030.
“My message to all of you is that together we can use scientific advancements to protect our planet, our biosphere, against a much worse, much more destructive challenge than the coronavirus pandemic,” Boris Johnson said at the summit.
“Reasons to hope”
After the historic momentum of the Paris Agreement, enthusiasm had subsided, dampened a year later by the election to the White House of Donald Trump, who announced the withdrawal of the world’s second largest economy from the global pact against the climate deregulation.
Heat waves, serial hurricanes, forest mega-fires, floods … The proliferation of devastating events is an unequivocal sign of global warming, which has just experienced the hottest decade on record.
“We have failed to take the necessary bold actions and today we have no time to waste,” Joe Biden admitted in a statement on Saturday.
He stressed that the United States would join the Paris Agreement from “the first day of (his) presidency” and reaffirmed its commitment to organize an international climate summit within 100 days.
For Greenpeace CEO John Sauven, “there is reason to be hopeful.”
“With Donald Trump out of the White House and stronger climate action from China, South Korea and Japan, we now have a chance to bring the world together in a huge effort to cut emissions from greenhouse gases, ”he said in a press release ahead of the summit.