Most countries represented at the United Nations high-level week agree that climate change is a global emergency, be they the big emitters of greenhouse gases or those on the frontlines of climate destruction.
But despite major strides made towards an international, multilateral agreement to combat global warming, this fight is still a race against time.
CGTN U.N. correspondent Liling Tan takes a look at the state of the planet, and efforts to save it.
Of all the crises faced by this international organization made up of 193 nations, climate change is the one issue that binds us. But how much trouble are we all really in?
“A lot of trouble. Climate change is linked with more extreme weather events, whether it be more intense and frequent hurricanes, droughts, flooding, and that has implications not just for those events themselves and the displacement of millions of people, but also crop failures,” David Kanter, Assistant Professor, NYU Department of Environmental Studies said.
“You’re looking at the collapse of ecosystems, you’re looking at urban systems put under pressure in terms of flooding, infrastructure.”
But the world has had an ambitious plan to deal with this.
At the United Nations on April 22, 2016, member nations signed on to the landmark Paris Climate Deal to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees.
The challenge however has been on how to follow through on promises and ramp up levels of ambition.
To increase momentum, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wants world leaders to go beyond speeches and deliver concrete commitments.
Reducing emissions to protect our planet while making sure no one is left behind – that's one of the main topics of Monday's #ClimateAction Summit at UNHQ in NYC. https://t.co/dre14NDSks pic.twitter.com/wrcaAZ8hfl
— United Nations (@UN) September 22, 2019
Ahead of his Climate Action Summit, the U.N. Chief has asked countries to ramp up efforts to go carbon neutral by 2050.
He also wants nations to reduce greenhouse emissions by 45% in the next decade, and increase contributions to the Green Climate Fund to support developing nations.
One nation unlikely to cough up commitments is the United States.
Since his 2017 announcement to exit the climate deal, U.S. President Donald Trump has thrown his support behind the U.S. coal industry, authorized the construction of the controversial Dakota oil pipeline, rolled back restrictions on methane pollution, and is revoking California’s authority to set vehicle emissions standards.
The U.S. disengagement has inadvertently allowed other nations to take the lead on climate.
“I think that still, the Europeans such as the French and the UK are the real intellectual leaders on climate diplomacy at the U.N., but China’s role is unquestionably rising,” Richard Gowan, U.N. Director, International Crisis Group said.
“Everyone grasps that with the U.S. at least temporarily outside climate diplomacy, China’s position is absolutely crucial to the entire credibility of efforts to fight climate change through the U.N.”
The U.N.’s efforts has also received a boost from a youth climate movement galvanized by teenage activists including Greta Thunberg, who is in New York for climate strikes and the Climate Action Summit.
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