03/12/2019

UN Chief: Climate Change Near 'Point Of No Return'

Deutsche WelleAP | AFP | Reuters

Antonio Guterres has taken the world's major economies to task for not "pulling their weight" to reduce emissions. Ahead of the COP25 climate summit, the UN head said we were rapidly approaching the "point of no return."


Guterres sounds stark climate warning

"We are confronted with a global climate crisis and the point of no return is no longer over the horizon, it is in sight and hurtling towards us," said United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the eve of the two-week COP25 global climate summit in Madrid.
"Our war against nature must stop, and we know that it is possible," he said Sunday. "We simply have to stop digging and drilling and take advantage of the vast possibilities offered by renewable energy and nature-based solutions."
Across the globe, catastrophic weather patterns — from floods to fire to extreme droughts and heavy snowstorms — are wreaking havoc on both human and animal life. Scientists are warning that the world is running out of time to reverse the worst possible effects of man-made climate breakdown.
Guterres took member nations to task for not sticking to the 2015 Paris climate agreement, which calls on a limit to fossil fuel use in an attempt to curb global temperatures increases.


Protesters around the world demand action


World's largest emitters are not pulling their weight'
"We also see clearly that the world's largest emitters are not pulling their weight," he said, "and without them, our goal is unreachable."
The world's largest carbon emitter is China and the second-largest, the United States.
At last year's UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland, member states drew up a framework for monitoring emission reductions and made plans for further cuts in the future. However, there has still been no agreement on key elements like putting a price on CO2 emissions that could allow carbon taxes to be traded between countries.
On Friday, mass rallies were held around the world as people called on their governments to address climate change before it's too late.

How is climate change affecting Europe?
Record-setting heat waves
The summer of 2019 saw heat records in Europe broken across the continent. In July, Germany recorded its highest temperature ever at 42.6 C (108 F). France broke its heat record twice in 2019, the highest temperature measuring 46.C (114.8 F) in July. Climate change increases the frequency of heat waves. 

Venice under water
In November 2019, the Italian archipelago city of Venice experienced multiple flooding events and the high water mark of 1.5 meters was reached three times in one week for the first time in recorded history. Projected sea level rise due to climate change could make these events more likely in the future.

Wildfires burning Spain
The same heat wave that brought record temperatures to France sparked the worst wildfires to hit Spain in 20 years. On the Spanish island of Gran Canaria, wildfires in August decimated a national park on the popular tourist island. Hotter temperatures and drier air due to climate change increase the risk of fires. 

German forests dying
A combination of drought, storms and extreme heat is depleting Germany's forests. According to BDF, a forest advocacy group, in Germany, more than 1 million established trees have died since 2018. "These are no longer single unusual weather events. That is climate change," said a BDF representative. 

Disappearing glaciers in the Alps
A glacier on the Italian side of Mont Blanc experienced accelerated melting in 2019. And enthusiasts held a "funeral" for the Pizol glacier in the Swiss Alps, which has almost completely disappeared. Scientists say climate change accelerates glacial melting in the Alps. 

Drought affecting food production
Two consecutive years of drought in Germany have hit farmers hard. In 2018, record drought caused major crop failures, and heat waves in 2019 also damaged crops. "Climate change means more frequent droughts and extreme weather events in Germany,"said German Weather Service Vice President Paul Becker.


New EU Commission plans 'Green Deal'
The newly minted leadership of the European Commission, under former German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, has set lofty climate goals for itself under a policy initiative called the "European Green Deal." Among the goals set out by the campaign is the plan to make Europe the "first carbon-neutral continent."
As von der Leyen and her cabinet took office on Sunday, she hailed the COP25 summit as the perfect "starting point" for her climate policy plans.
"Europe is leading in this topic and we know that we have to be ambitious for our planet,'' von der Leyen told reporters.


Seychelles: An ecosystem under threat

On Thursday, European lawmakers voted to declare an EU-wide climate emergency in a symbolic move aimed at increasing pressure on the incoming European Commission to take a stronger stance on climate change.
On Sunday, European Parliament President David Sassoli also spoke of the need "to turn the promises of the past few months into results that improve people's lives. From the fight against climate change to tackling the rise in the cost of living, Europeans want to see real action.''


Will a 'climate emergency' make a difference?

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