World Is Doomed in the Face of Climate Change: UN Chief

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré (file)
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré (file)

UN Secretary-General António Guterres told business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday (January 23) that the world is “doomed” in the face of climate change unless major industrial nations reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

“I’m in Davos to deliver a strong message on Climate Action. While our planet is burning, too many decision makers are fiddling. Every city, region, bank, pension fund, and industry must completely reimagine how they operate and invest to avoid a point of no return,” he said.

Mr. Guterres also observed that many smaller developing countries and the European Union have committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 whereas the big emitters have yet to act.

“If the big emitters do not rally around the principle of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, we will be doomed because they represent a very important share,” the UN chief said. “The G20 represents 80 per cent of the emissions that contribute to climate change.”

Mr. Guterres said Governments can take steps to help move the world towards a greener future, such as cutting subsidies for fossil fuels. “As a taxpayer, I can’t really accept the idea that my taxes are used to boost hurricanes, or to bleach coral, or to melt glaciers,” he added.

For the Secretary-General, climate change is the defining issue of our time, representing an “existential threat” to the entire planet and threatening development.

Mr. Guterres said he is encouraged by private sector commitment to the environment, as evidenced by increasing numbers of financial institutions and asset managers making carbon neutrality a priority in their investments.

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Rakesh Raman