Secretary-General warns of climate emergency, calls Intergovernmental Panel report a ‘file of shame’, while says leaders are ‘lying’, fueling flames – Reuters
APRIL 4, 2022
Here is the text of the video message of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, on the launch of the third report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in New York today:
The jury has returned its verdict. And it’s overwhelming. This report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a litany of broken climate promises. It is a record of shame, listing the empty pledges that set us firmly on the path to an unlivable world.
We are on the fast track to climate catastrophe. Big cities under water. Unprecedented heatwaves. Terrifying storms. Widespread water shortages. The extinction of a million species of plants and animals. This is not fiction or exaggeration. This is what science tells us will result from our current energy policies.
We are on track for global warming of more than double the 1.5°C limit agreed in Paris. Some governments and business leaders say one thing but do another. In other words, they lie. And the results will be catastrophic. It is a climate emergency.
Climate scientists warn that we are already dangerously close to tipping points that could lead to cascading and irreversible climate impacts. But governments and high-emitting companies are not just turning a blind eye, they are adding fuel to the fire.
They are suffocating our planet, based on their vested interests and historic investments in fossil fuels, while cheaper, renewable solutions deliver green jobs, energy security and greater price stability.
We left COP26 [twenty-sixth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] in Glasgow with naïve optimism, based on new promises and new commitments. But the main problem – the huge growing emissions gap – has been virtually ignored. The science is clear: to keep the 1.5°C limit agreed in Paris within reach, we need to reduce global emissions by 45% in this decade.
But current climate commitments would mean a 14% increase in emissions. And most major emitters are not taking the necessary steps to deliver on even these inadequate promises. Climate activists are sometimes portrayed as dangerous radicals. But the really dangerous radicals are the countries that increase the production of fossil fuels.
Investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is moral and economic folly. These investments will soon become stranded assets – a blot on the landscape and a blight on investment portfolios. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Today’s report focuses on mitigation — reducing emissions. It defines viable and financially sound options in each sector that can keep alive the possibility of limiting warming to 1.5°C.
Above all, we must triple the speed of the transition to renewable energies. It means shifting investment and subsidies from fossil fuels to renewables – now. In most cases, renewable energy is already much cheaper. That means governments ending coal funding, not just abroad, but at home.
This means climate coalitions, made up of developed countries, multilateral development banks, private financial institutions and corporations, supporting major emerging economies in this transition. This means protecting forests and ecosystems as powerful climate solutions. This means rapid progress in reducing methane emissions. And that means implementing the commitments made in Paris and Glasgow.
Leaders must lead. But, we can all do our part. We are indebted to young people, civil society and indigenous communities for sounding the alarm and holding leaders accountable. We must build on their work to create a grassroots movement that cannot be ignored.
If you live in a large city, rural area or small island state; if you invest in the stock market; if you care about justice and the future of our children; I speak directly to you: demand that renewable energy is introduced now – quickly and on a large scale; demand an end to coal-fired electricity; demand an end to all fossil fuel subsidies.
Today’s report comes at a time of global turbulence. Inequality is reaching unprecedented levels. The recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is shockingly uneven. Inflation is rising and the war in Ukraine is causing food and energy prices to skyrocket. But increased fossil fuel production will only make matters worse.
The choices countries make today will make or break the 1.5°C commitment. A shift to renewables will mend our broken global energy mix and offer hope to the millions of people suffering from climate impacts today. Climate promises and plans must be turned into reality and action, now. It’s time to stop burning our planet and start investing in the abundant renewable energy that surrounds us.
For news media. Not an official record.