Global climate target ‘gasping’, UN chief says

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said on Monday that the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is “gasp” as countries fall short of the international community’s climate goals.

“We are still going in the wrong direction. The global emissions gap is growing. The 1.5 degree target is gasp. National climate plans fall woefully short,” Guterres said at a year-end press conference at UN headquarters in New York.

Global governments have agreed on the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) with the 2015 Paris Agreement, but countries are struggling to stay on track – and some voiced opposition to the goal at the UN’s COP27 climate summit last month.

But the UN chief continued his gloomy view of the current climate with a message of determination to keep warming within the set threshold.

“And yet we are not retreating. We’re fighting back. … I have not made a fist for the need for all of us to confront this existential threat. And I won’t budge,” Guterres said.

Guterres announced that the UN will hold a climate ambition summit in September next year ahead of the COP28 climate conference to be held in Dubai in November.

“I call on every leader to step forward – from governments, business, cities and regions, civil society and finance. Come up with new, tangible and credible climate action to accelerate the pace of change,” said Guterres, who called the upcoming event a “no-nonsense” conference.

“The invitation is open. But the price of admission is non-negotiable – credible, serious and novel climate action and nature-based solutions that will advance the needle and respond to the urgency of the climate crisis.”

He praised some progress made at this year’s COP27 climate summit and said the UN will “continue to urge” countries to agree to a climate solidarity pact, an agreement that would help phase out coal-fired power plants by 2040, among other things.

In his opening speech at the COP27 summit last month, Guterres said “it’s either a climate solidarity pact – or a collective suicide pact.”

Guterres’ comments on the global warming target come shortly after a historic agreement was reached at the UN Biodiversity Conference to protect nearly a third of land and water considered important to biodiversity by 2030.

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