The UN secretary-general has sounded the alarm on climate change, warning that there could be a $2tn loss in productivity in the global economy by 2030 due to the effects of a hotter world. “We are careering towards the edge of the abyss,” said António Guterres in a speech on Monday. “Extreme heatwaves, wildfires, storms and floods are leaving a trail of death and devastation.”
His remarks come at a time when the global climate talks are struggling to reach an agreement over how to implement the Paris climate agreement that was signed by more than 180 countries, which aims to limit the increase in global temperature to well below two degrees. “According to a UN study, the commitments made so far by Parties to the Paris Agreement represent just one-third of what is needed,” said Mr. Guterres. Key sticking points in the climate talks include how to fund the cost of reducing carbon emissions and agreeing on a rulebook about how countries carbon emissions should be measured.
After a UN climate meeting in Bangkok last week failed to produce an agreement, concerns are growing that the annual UN climate summit this December in Katowice, Poland could reach an impasse. “We cannot allow Katowice to remind us of Copenhagen,” warned Mr. Guterres, referring to the failed climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009. Progress in the recent Bangkok meeting was “far from enough” he added. One of the key areas of disagreement is who will pay for the proposed $100bn a year fund to invest in decarbonization projects in less developed countries.
Mr Guterres also announced a special one-time climate summit for world leaders in New York next September, and a new special envoy for climate action, Mexican diplomat Luis Alfonso de Alba, to lead the summit.