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UN Chief: World is Facing a Grave Climate Emergency; Paris Climate Goals Still not Enough to Curb Greenhouse Gas Emissions

``It is plain to me that we have no time to lose,'' Guterres said. ``Sadly, it is not yet plain to all the decision makers that run our world"

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Guterres is calling on governments to stop building new coal plants by 2020, cut greenhouse emissions by 45% over the next decade. Pixabay

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres took his global message urging immediate climate action to officials gathered in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, where production of hydrocarbons remains a key driver of the economy.

Guterres is calling on governments to stop building new coal plants by 2020, cut greenhouse emissions by 45% over the next decade and overhauling fossil fuel-driven economies with new technologies like solar and wind. The world, he said, “is facing a grave climate emergency.”

In remarks at a summit in Abu Dhabi, he painted a grim picture of how rapidly climate change is advancing, saying it is outpacing efforts to address it.  He lauded the Paris climate accord, but said even if its promises are fully met, the world still faces what he described as a catastrophic three-degree temperature rise by the end of the century.

Arctic permafrost is melting decades earlier than even worst-case scenarios, he said, threatening to unlock vast amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas. “It is plain to me that we have no time to lose,” Guterres said. “Sadly, it is not yet plain to all the decision makers that run our world.”

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FILE – U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres. VOA

He spoke at the opulent Emirates Palace, where Abu Dhabi was hosting a preparatory meeting for the U.N. Climate Action Summit in September. Guterres was expected to later take a helicopter ride to view Abu Dhabi’s Noor solar power plant.

When asked, U.N. representatives said the lavish Abu Dhabi summit and his planned helicopter ride would be carbon neutral, meaning their effects would be balanced by efforts like planting trees and sequestering emissions. The U.N. says carbon dioxide emissions account for around 80% of global warming.

Guterres was in Abu Dhabi fresh off meetings with The Group of 20 leaders in Osaka, Japan. There, he appealed directly to heads of state of the world’s main emitters to step up their efforts. The countries of the G-20 represent 80% of world emissions of greenhouse gases, he said. At the G-20 meeting, 19 countries expressed their commitment to the Paris agreement, with the only the United States dissenting.

In 2017, President Donald Trump pledged to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement as soon as 2020, arguing it disadvantages American workers and taxpayers. Trump has also moved steadily to dismantle Obama administration efforts to rein in coal, oil and gas emissions. His position has been that these efforts also hurt the U.S. economy.

paris climate meet, paris climate goals, climate change
Arctic permafrost is melting decades earlier than even worst-case scenarios, he said, threatening to unlock vast amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas. VOA

The secretary-general’s special envoy for the climate summit, Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba, told The Associated Press it was disappointing that the U.S. has pulled out from the accord. However, he said there are many examples of efforts at the local and state level in the United States to combat climate change.

“I think it is very important to have all countries committing to this cause… even more when we are talking about the country of the importance and the size – not only in terms of the economy but also the emissions – of the United States,” he said.

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Guterres is urging business leaders and politicians to come to the Climate Action Summit later this year with their plans ready to nearly halve greenhouse emissions by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

He suggested taxing major carbon-emitting industries and polluters, ending the subsidization of oil and gas, and halting the building of all new coal plants by next year. “We are in a battle for our lives,” he said. “But it is a battle we can win.” (VOA)

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Climate Change Would Affect Health Of Indian Children: Lancet

Climate change would hit health of Indian children hard, says study by Lancet

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Children in India will be particularly vulnerable to the ill effects of climate change. Pixabay

Children in India will be particularly vulnerable to the ill effects of climate change such as worsening air quality, higher food prices and rise in infectious diseases, warns a new study published in the journal The Lancet.

Climatic suitability for the Vibrio bacteria that cause cholera is rising three per cent a year in India since the early 1980s, said the report.

“With its huge population and high rates of healthcare inequality, poverty, and malnutrition, few countries are likely to suffer from the health effects of climate change as much as India,” said study co-author Poornima Prabhakaran from the Public Health Foundation of India.

“Diarrhoeal infections, a major cause of child mortality, will spread into new areas, whilst deadly heatwaves, similar to the one in 2015 that killed thousands of people in India, could soon become the norm,” Prabhakaran said.

Through adolescence and into adulthood, a child born today will be breathing more toxic air, driven by the fossil fuels and made worse by rising temperatures.

This is especially damaging to young people as their lungs are still developing, so polluted air takes a great toll, contributing to reduced lung function, worsening asthma, and increasing the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

Later in life, a child born today will face increased risk from severe floods, prolonged droughts, and wildfires.

 

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Children in India breathe toxic air and may develop lung diseases. Pixabay

Most countries have experienced an increase in people exposed to wildfires since 2001-2004 with a financial toll per person 48 times larger than flooding.

India alone saw an increase of more than 21 million exposures, and China around 17 million, resulting in direct deaths and respiratory illness as well as loss of homes, said the report.

“Over the past two decades, the Government of India has launched many initiatives and programmes to address a variety of diseases and risk factors. But this report shows that the public health gains achieved over the past 50 years could soon be reversed by the changing climate,” Prabhakaran said.

The “Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change” is a yearly analysis tracking progress across 41 key indicators, demonstrating what action to meet Paris Agreement targets — or business as usual — means for human health.

The project is a collaboration between 120 experts from 35 institutions including the World Health Organisation (WHO), World Bank, University College London, and Tsinghua University.

For the world to meet its UN climate goals and protect the health of the next generation, the energy landscape will have to change drastically, the report warns.

Also Read- Prince Charles Talks Climate Change in India

Nothing short of a 7.4 per cent year-on-year cut in fossil CO2 emissions from 2019 to 2050 will limit global warming to the more ambitious goal of 1.5 degree Celsius, said the report. If the world follows a business-as-usual pathway, with high carbon emissions and climate change continuing at the current rate, a child born today will face a world on average over 4 degree Celsius warmer by their 71st birthday, threatening their health at every stage of their lives. (IANS)