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United Nations: We Have ‘Two Years To Save The World’ From Climate Crisis

Above photo: UNFCCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell speaks during the Closing Plenary at the UN Climate Change Conference at Expo City Dubai in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on Dec. 13, 2023. COP28 / Christophe Viseux.

We are running out of time to take action on climate change, says Simon Stiell, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

In a speech titled “Two Years to Save the World,” Stiell emphasized that governments, development banks and business leaders must take steps to avert much more serious impacts of the climate crisis within that time frame, reported Reuters.

“For those who say that climate change is only one of many priorities, like ending poverty, ending hunger, ending pandemics, or improving education, I simply say this: none of these crucial tasks — indeed none of the Sustainable Development Goals — will be possible unless we get the climate crisis under control,” Stiell said in the speech, delivered at London thinktank Chatham House.

According to the UN, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030 is essential to keep global heating to within 1.5 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels. However, for 10 consecutive months, global temperatures have reached record highs, the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service said.

“As of today, national climate plans — called Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs —  in aggregate will barely cut emissions at all by 2030,” Stiell said. “We still have a chance to make greenhouse gas emissions tumble, with a new generation of national climate plans. But we need these stronger plans, now. And while every country must submit a new plan, the reality is G20 emissions are around 80% of global emissions.”

The focus of the UN COP29 climate conference in Baku, Azerbaijan, will be for nations to come up with new climate finance goals to support developing countries in tackling climate change and making the transition away from fossil fuels, Reuters reported.

“A quantum leap this year in climate finance is both essential and entirely achievable. Every day, finance ministers, CEOs, investors, and development bankers direct trillions of dollars. It’s time to shift those dollars from the energy and infrastructure of the past, towards that of a cleaner, more resilient future… And to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable countries benefit,” Stiell said at Chatham House.

The climate chief recommended debt relief, shipping emissions taxes, less expensive financing for more impoverished countries and International Monetary Fund and World Bank reforms be used to raise more funds for climate finance, reported Reuters.

“The transformative potential of bold climate action — in tandem with steps to advance gender equality — is one of the fastest ways to move away from business as usual,” Stiell said in the speech. “In fact, business-as-usual will further entrench the gross inequalities between the world’s richest and poorest countries and communities that unchecked climate impacts are making much worse.”

“To start curing this global cancer of inequality, we need to enable bold new national climate plans by all nations that protect people, boost jobs and drive inclusive economic growth. And we need them by early next year,” Stiell added.

Stiell stressed that the necessary changes don’t just sit with governments and lawmakers, but with individuals everywhere.

“A recent survey by Gallup of 130,000 people in 125 countries found that 89% want stronger climate action by governments. Yet too often we’re seeing signs of climate action slipping down cabinet agendas,” Stiell said. “The only surefire way to get climate up the cabinet agenda is if enough people raise their voices. So my final message today is for people everywhere. Every voice matters. Yours have never been more important. If you want bolder climate action, now is the time to make yours count.”

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