UN Secretary-General seeks increased action to combat climate change

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 Secretary-General António Guterres in a major speech on climate change at NYU Stern School of Business, May 2017 | ©UN Photo

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres urged the creation of broader coalitions of civil society, business and community leaders to combat the effects of climate change and build support for implementation of the Paris Agreement to limit the rise in global warming.

The Secretary-General also pledged to intensify high-level political action and policy engagement, including a commitment to build momentum at the upcoming Ocean Conference at UN Headquarters in early June 2017.

The threat posed by climate change is ``reason to build ever broader coalitions – with civil society and business, with cities and states, with academia and community leaders,’’ the Secretary-General said in a major speech on 30 May at the New York University Stern School of Business.

The Secretary-General, who has made conflict prevention and reform of the UN development system among his top priorities, underlined the challenges that climate change poses to countries around the globe.

``Climate change is a direct threat in itself and a multiplier of many other threats -- from poverty to displacement to conflicts. The effects of climate change are already being felt around the world,’’ the Secretary-General said. ``They are dangerous and they are accelerating.’’

The Secretary-General emphasized the need to strengthen development of the green economy, including the shift to solar power and renewable energy.

``The falling cost of renewables is one of the most encouraging stories on the planet today,’’ the Secretary-General said, noting in particular that in Europe more than 90% of new power generation capacity comes from renewables.

``Those who fail to bet on the green economy will be living in a grey future,’’ Mr. Guterres said in his wide-ranging speech, in which he noted that there was no alternative but to face up to the need for countries to honour and act on climate change commitments.

``If we want to protect forests and life on land, safeguard our oceans, create massive economic opportunities, prevent even more massive losses and improve the health and well-being of people and the planet, we have one simple option staring us in the face,’’ he said. ``Climate action.’’