UN urges world to mount rescue operation for planet, nature

New York, Dec 2 (efe-epa).- United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday warned that humanity is waging a suicidal “war” against nature and urged the world community to mount a “rescue” of the planet and make the fight against climate change an absolute priority.

“The state of the planet is broken, humanity is waging war on nature,” he said in a speech delivered at New York’s Columbia University. “Nature always strikes back, and is doing so with gathering force and fury.”

The UN chief said that for 2021, the international organization’s main focus will be to build a real coalition for carbon neutrality, thus giving a big push to the fight against global warming.

He said the every country, city, financial institution and company should adopt plans for a transition to net carbon zero emissions by 2050 and take decisive actions now to be able to put themselves on the proper path to achieving that goal, specifically by cutting emissions by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030.

Along those lines, Guterres emphasized the recent hopeful news that the European Union, Japan, South Korea and other countries have committed themselves to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and the incoming Joe Biden administration in the US has announced that it will seek the same goal. China, too, has set 2060 as the date whereby it aims to achieve carbon neutrality.

He said this group commitment means that countries representing more than 65 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions and more than 70 percent of the global economy have made ambitious commitments to achieve carbon neutrality, but now the task is to convert this impulse into a bona fide movement.

Throughout his address, Guterres referred to the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) provisional report titled “The State of the Global Climate 2020,” which was released Wednesday, noting that this year will be one of the three hottest in more than 150 years of scientific measuring of temperature, and adding that the past decade was the hottest ever recorded with sharp ice sheet decline, melting permafrost, huge wildfires and an extremely active hurricane season.

“Stop the plunder, and start the healing,” he said in discussing deforestation around the world, something that he said is also augmenting climate change.

The Portuguese diplomat painted a dire portrait of the world situation, warning about the “collapse” of biodiversity with more than a million species in danger of extinction, the advance of deserts, deforestation, pollution of the oceans and the fact that pollution of all kinds kills millions of people each year.

At the same time, however, he said that there are reasons for hope, with more and more people – above all young people – understanding the problem posed by climate change and demanding solutions from their political and economic leaders.

Calling this the “moment of truth” for humanity, Guterres said that the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change have created a situation where it is impossible to go back to the old normal of inequality, injustice and the negligent use and exploitation of the Earth.

Saying that there is “no vaccine for the planet,” he declared that the Earth needs a “rescue,” emphasizing that the billions of dollars that are being invested to overcome the coronavirus crisis have to be used to move forward toward a “sustainable economy” by encouraging the development of renewable energy sources.

“The door is open,” he said, and the solution is here, adding that now is the time to transform humanity’s relationship with the natural world.


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