Making peace with nature the defining task of 21st century, says UN Sec-Gen

Making peace with nature is the defining task of the 21st century. It must be the top, top priority for everyone, everywhere,

…Mr Guiterres stressed.

During his speech, UN Secretary-General set the stage for dramatically scaled-up ambition on climate change over the coming year. His speech came on the day that two new authoritative reports were released from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) underscoring the severity of the climate crisis.

The WMO report shows 2020 to be on track as one of the three warmest years on record, while the UNEP report states that to limit temperature rise to 1.5-degrees Celsius as set out in the Paris Climate Change Agreement, the world needs to decrease fossil fuel production by roughly 6% every year between now and 2030.

While detailing an emergency, Mr. Guterres said he also saw hope, and pointed to the many solutions already within reach to solve the present crisis. He spoke of the COVID pandemic as presenting an opportunity:

COVID recovery and our planet’s repair can be two sides of the same coin,” adding that it was time to flick the ‘green switch’.

He said the international community has a chance to not simply reset the world economy, but to transform it to a sustainable one driven by renewable energy that will create new jobs, cleaner infrastructure and a resilient future.

Mr. Guterres cited three imperatives in addressing the climate crisis:

  • First, achieving global carbon neutrality within the next three decades.
  • Second, aligning global finance behind the Paris Agreement.
  • Third, delivering a breakthrough on adaptation to protect the world – and especially the most vulnerable people and countries – from climate impacts.

See also: 2020 and consequences for maritime GHG emissions

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