UN pushes countries to act in fight against climate change

No Sidebar

In this July 27, 2018 file photo, the Dave Johnson coal-fired power plant is silhouetted against the morning sun in Glenrock, Wyo. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a warning to the General Assembly: the world has reached a ‘pivotal moment’ in global warming. Guterres said global leaders must act fast to combat climate change. But are nations doing enough now?
CGTN’s Sean Callebs filed this report.

“I have asked you here to sound the alarm – climate issue -is the defining issue of our time,” Guterres said.

The U.N. is committed to the historic 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, a worldwide effort to limit the rise in global temperatures.

Massive wildfires this past summer from Greece to California were fanned in part by record temperatures, killing scores and causing billions of dollars in damage.

“We need to rapidly shift away from our dependence on fossil fuels. We need to replace them with clean energy, from water, wind,” Guterres said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres adresses the 73rd session of the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York September 25, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Don EMMERT)

Fossil fuels are blamed for a spike in global temperatures.

Virtually every nation responded with strong support, with one noticeable exception. U.S. President Donald Trump vowed to make coal king again in the United States. It was a pledge that helped push him to victory in 2016.

The U.S. was the only nation to opt out of the Paris Accord. Even so, the U.N. chief says the future is shifting away from fossil fuels.

“Not only will a shift to renewable energy save money, it will also create new jobs, waste less water -boost food production and clean the polluted air that is killing us,” he said.

United Nations (U.N.) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres listens as President Donald Trump chairs a United Nations (U.N.) Security Council meeting on September 26, 2018 in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)

The U.N. says its studies indicate a bold switch to clean energy could spur tens of trillion of dollars in economic benefits through 2030. It could also create $65 million new jobs, and lead to as many 700 thousand fewer deaths typically caused by air pollution.

The sobering news, however, is that runaway climate change is a real threat, and the Paris Climate Accord could fail.

As part of the agreement, wealthy nations were supposed to contribute $100 billion to help developing nations grow, without rampant use of fossil fuels. The reality is that the measure is grossly underfunded, with countries not keeping their word. The Trump administration has been forward thus far, saying it simply will not pay the billions the U.S. had pledged.

Nick Nuttall examines the UN’s impact on climate change

CGTN’s Asieh Namdar spoke to Nick Nuttall about the significance of annual U.N. discussions on climate change. Nuttall is the the director of communications at the Global Climate Action Summit.