Above Photo: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks about climate change at UN headquarters in New York City on July 27, 2023. Ed Jones / AFP via Getty Images .
As heat waves and wildfires cause chaos in North Africa, Europe and North America, climate scientists from the United Nations (UN) have announced that it is almost certain this July will be the warmest month ever recorded.
At a press conference on climate Thursday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned, “The era of global warming has ended; the era of global boiling has arrived,” a UN press release said.
“Today, the World Meteorological Organization and the European Commission’s Copernicus Climate Change Service are releasing official data that confirms that July 2023 is set to be the hottest month ever recorded in human history,” Guterres said. “The consequences are clear and they are tragic: children swept away by monsoon rains; families running from the flames; workers collapsing in scorching heat.”
Chris Hewitt, the World Meteorological Organization’s director of climate services, said that, based on 173 years of data, the eight warmest years on record occurred from 2015 to 2022, and that substantial warming had been happening since the 1970s, UN News reported.
“Climate change is here… And it is just the beginning,” Guterres said, as reported by UN News.
Hewitt made the point that the El Niño weather pattern replacing the cooling La Niña would mean the “almost certain likelihood that one of the next five years will be the warmest on record,” and that “more likely than not” average temperatures worldwide would temporarily go above the 1.5 degrees Celsius mark above pre-industrial levels for a minimum of one of those years.
Guterres emphasized that global action was needed now on the emissions and climate adaptation and finance fronts.
“No more hesitancy. No more excuses. No more waiting for others to move first,” Guterres said in the press release. “It is still possible to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid the very worst of climate change. But only with dramatic, immediate climate action. We have seen some progress. A robust rollout of renewables. Some positive steps from sectors such as shipping. But none of this is going far enough or fast enough. Accelerating temperatures demand accelerated action.”
Guterres said world leaders need to take steps immediately, especially those from the Group of 20 richest industrial nations, which emit 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, UN News reported.
“We have several critical opportunities ahead. The Africa Climate Summit. The G20 Summit. The UN Climate Ambition Summit. COP28,” Guterres said in the press release. “We need ambitious new national emissions reduction targets from G20 members… And all actors must come together to accelerate a just and equitable transition from fossil fuels to renewables – as we stop oil and gas expansion, and funding and licensing for new coal, oil and gas… And we must reach net zero electricity by 2035 in developed countries and 2040 elsewhere, as we work to bring affordable electricity to everyone on earth.”
Guterres also called for an end to corporations and financial institutions hiding from their culpability and responsibilities.
“Financial institutions must end their fossil fuel lending, underwriting and investments and shift to renewables instead. And fossil fuel companies must chart their move towards clean energy, with detailed transition plans across the entire value chain: No more greenwashing. No more deception. And no more abusive distortion of anti-trust laws to sabotage net zero alliances,” Guterres said in the press release.
Guterres went on to say that extreme weather was “becoming the new normal,” and that wealthy nations needed to support countries “on the frontlines – who have done the least to cause the crisis and have the least resources to deal with it” from the resulting flooding, droughts, heat and fires.
The UN Secretary-General added that developed countries needed to provide $100 billion each year for climate support in developing countries, make sure the Green Climate Fund is replenished and make the loss and damage fund operational at COP28.
Guterres went on to say that a price needed to be put on carbon and that development banks need to make more private finance available at a reasonable cost for developing countries, as well as augment their funding for adaptation, loss and damage and renewables.
“The evidence is everywhere: humanity has unleashed destruction. This must not inspire despair, but action. We can still stop the worst. But to do so we must turn a year of burning heat into a year of burning ambition. And accelerate climate action – now,” Guterres said.