Julia Poska| September 13th, 2018
United Nations Secretary General António Guterres called on global leaders to ramp up their Paris Accord commitments and to do it soon in a speech he gave September 10 at the U.N. headquarters in New York.
“If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change, with disastrous consequences for people and all the natural systems that sustain us,” he said, as quoted in Al Jazeera.
Guterres pointed to record-breaking temperatures and devastating natural disasters like Hurricane Maria as evidence that climate change is outpacing human efforts to reduce it. He called on leaders outside of national government, like industry leaders and local officials, to take initiative as well.
Climate change is the defining issue of our time – and we are at a defining moment. If we do not change course by 2020, we could miss our chance to avoid the disastrous consequences of runaway climate change. The time for ambitious #ClimateAction is now. https://t.co/Ad19hj3zsD pic.twitter.com/VykZtbYDUi
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) September 10, 2018
The U.N Paris Accord, signed by almost 200 countries, aims to keep global temperatures at least 2 degrees Celsius below a pre-industrial baseline by the end of the century. 2020. As of right now, many countries are not on track to meet these targets. Even if the Accord met its full potential, many critics argue the reductions it outlines would not actually meet the 2 degree mark.
Guterres spoke of the agreement, saying “What we still lack, even after the Paris Agreement, is leadership and the ambition to do what is needed,” as quoted in the New York Times. He asked leaders to step up and meet their Paris Accord promises to show citizens of their countries they “care about the people whose fate they hold in their hands.”
The next U.N climate summit, COP24, will be held in Poland this December. At this summit, world leaders who have heeded Guterres’ warning will have the opportunity to announce plans to increase their fossil fuel emission reduction targets.