The world has two years to act against climate change or face “disastrous consequences,” warned the UN Secretary-general on Monday, calling on civil society to demand “accounts” to world leaders.
“If we do not change direction by 2020, we risk (…) disastrous consequences for humans and the natural systems that support us,” said Antonio Guterres.
His speech at the UN comes three days before an unprecedented world summit for climate action that brings together thousands of elected officials, mayors, NGO leaders and businesses in San Francisco.
“It is imperative that civil society – young people, women’s groups, the private sector, religious communities, scientists and environmental movements around the world – hold leaders accountable,” the UN secretary-general said.
By pitching threats to the food chain and access to water, Guterres said the world was “facing a direct existential threat” and the “greatest challenge” of the day.
“Climate change is going faster than us” and “we have to break with paralysis”. “We have the tools to make our actions effective, but we miss – even after the Paris agreement – leadership and ambition to do what we need to do,” he said.
Thus, “we must stop deforestation, restore degraded forests and change the way we cultivate”. We must also review “how to heat, cool and light our buildings to waste less energy”.
Antonio Guterres recalled that he will organize a global climate summit at the UN in September 2019, one year ahead of the deadline for the signatories of the 2015 Paris agreement to fulfill their commitments.