UN chief Antonio Guterres accused governments and businesses Monday of “lying” about their efforts to stem climate change, seeking to shame them into action as the body released a landmark crisis report.
The United Nations’ Secretary General said the world must ditch coal, oil and gas and go all-out to develop renewable energy without delay to avoid a “climate disaster”.
“Some government and business leaders are saying one thing — but doing another. Simply put, they are lying. And the results will be catastrophic,” Guterres said in a video message released at the same time as the UN report on how to avert the worst impacts of global warming.
The report by scientists warned that not enough is being done to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels that science shows are driving the warming of the planet.
Nearly five months after rallying world countries at the inconclusive COP26 climate summit, the UN chief hardened his rhetoric further, targeting the governments and companies who the report said must act to halt emissions.
Successive reports by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have shown that human-caused warming has already driven a rise in deadly storms, droughts, fires and floods and has even wiped out some species.
Countries agreed under the 2016 Paris accords to limit the rise in global temperatures to “well below” two degrees Celsius compared to preindustrial levels, and 1.5C if possible.
n the last of its latest three-part series of major reports, the IPCC warned that time has almost run out. If current policies are not improved upon, Earth is on track for 3.2C of warming, it warned.
“High-emitting governments and corporations are not just turning a blind eye; they are adding fuel to the flames,” Guterres said.
“They are choking our planet, based on their vested interests and historic investments in fossil fuels, when cheaper, renewable solutions provide green jobs, energy security, and greater price stability.”
The COP26 summit saw pledges to halt deforestation, curb methane emissions, phase down coal-fired power and boost financial aid to developing countries.
But Guterres said the latest report highlighted the shortcomings in action.
He called it “a file of shame, cataloguing the empty pledges that put us firmly on track towards an unliveable world.”
Hundreds of companies have promised to reach “net zero” emissions by 2050.
But companies are still planning new fossil fuel extraction projects, insisting that some oil and gas and will still be needed to meet the needs of billions of the world’s inhabitants as the shift to full renewable energy runs its course.
“Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness,” Guterres said.
“To keep the 1.5-degree limit agreed in Paris within reach, we need to cut global emissions by 45 percent this decade,” he added.
“But current climate pledges would mean a 14-percent increase in emissions,” compared to 2010 levels, he said.
“And most major emitters are not taking the steps needed to fulfil even these inadequate promises.”
Addressing complaints that much of the world is suffering from rising food and energy prices due to the Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine, he insisted that “increasing fossil fuel production will only make matters worse.”