UN to actively engage with India, US, China on carbon neutrality in 2050
The UN chief has outlined four priorities for 2020 UN Climate Change Conference, which include more ambitious national climate plans that will keep global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels and strategies to reach net zero emissions by 2050, among others.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that the world organization will be “actively engaged” with big carbon emitters such as the US, China, India, Russia and Japan to have them commit to carbon neutrality in 2050.
The UN chief and Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization Petteri Taalas launched the "WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2019".
In the report, Guterres warned that the world is currently “way off track meeting either the 1.5°C or 2°C targets that the Paris Agreement calls for”, referring to the commitment made by the international community in 2015, to keep global average temperatures well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
“Obviously, the G20 represents 80 per cent of the emissions in the world. And if one looks at western Europe, North America, China, India, Russia and Japan, you have the bulk of emissions.
"And it is with these countries that we'll be very actively engaged during this year in order to have as many as possible, ideally all of them, committed to carbon neutrality in 2050,” Guterres said in response to a question during a press conference at the United Nations on Tuesday.
“There are good news for the moment in relation to the European Union. Let's hope that this example can be followed by all the others,” he said.
The report found that 2019 was the second warmest year on record, and 2010-2019 was the warmest decade on record. Since the 1980s, each successive decade has been warmer than any preceding decade since 1850.
Let us have no illusions: the climate crisis is already causing calamity & more is to come.— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) March 11, 2020
I call on all countries to show more #ClimateAction ambition - and on individuals to hold your governments to account.
This is a battle we can - and must - win. pic.twitter.com/zYtRPyZnbC
The indications are crystal clear. Global heating is accelerating.— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) March 10, 2020
We have no time to lose if we are to avert a climate catastrophe. We need meaningful #ClimateAction before it's too late.https://t.co/llCQzX1tC7 pic.twitter.com/Nrwz2LviBt
“In 2019, record-setting high temperatures in Australia, India, Japan and Europe adversely affected health and well-being,” the report said. The warmest year so far was 2016, but that could be topped soon, Taalas said, according to PTI.
“Given that greenhouse gas levels continue to increase, the warming will continue. A recent decadal forecast indicates that a new annual global temperature record is likely in the next five years. It is a matter of time,” Taalas said.
The report notes that in 2019, extreme weather events, some of which were unprecedented in scale, took place in many parts of the world.
The monsoon season saw rainfall above the long-term average in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar and flooding led to the loss of some 2,200 lives in the region.
“Regular flooding occurred during the Indian summer monsoon season, particularly in western and northern India and neighbouring countries. Overall, all-India rainfall for the summer monsoon season (June–September) was 10 per cent above the 1961–2010 average, the first above-average year since 2013 and the wettest since 1994, despite below-average June rainfall,” the report said, adding that over 2,200 lives were reported to have been lost in various flooding episodes in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar during the season.
In the US, total economic losses from flooding were estimated at around USD 20 billion. Other regions suffered a severe lack of water. Australia has its driest year on record, and Southern Africa, Central America and parts of South America received abnormally low rains. The year 2019 also saw an above-average number of tropical cyclones, with 72 in the northern hemisphere and 27 in the southern hemisphere.
It added that widespread severe thunderstorms and associated dust storms affected northern and western India in mid-April, with at least 50 deaths reported in the country during the month and 60 deaths reported from further severe thunderstorms in northern India in the first half of June.
China is the world's biggest carbon emitter followed by the US, India and the EU.
Despite US being among the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter, President Donald Trump withdrew the country from the Paris Climate Agreement, a move that drew condemnation from the world which arrived at the landmark agreement aimed at strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change.
India is leading from the front in the fight against climate change and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing word leaders at the UN Climate Summit in September last year, had given a clarion call for a “global people's movement” to bring about a behavioral change to deal with climate change.
Guterres has consistently stressed on the need to “reduce emissions 45 per cent by 2030 from 2010 levels, achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and stabilize global temperature rise at 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century."
Greenhouse gas emissions continued to grow in 2019, leading to increased ocean heat, and such phenomena as rising sea levels, the altering of ocean currents, melting floating ice shelves, and dramatic changes in marine ecosystems. At the poles, sea ice continues to decline, and glaciers shrunk yet again, for the 32nd consecutive year.
Between 2002 and 2016, the Greenland ice sheet lost some 260 Gigatonnes of ice per year, with a peak loss of 458 Gigatonnes in 2011/12. The 2019 loss of 329 Gigatonnes, was well above average.
“We have to aim high at the next climate conference in Glasgow in November,” Guterres said, referring to the 2020 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), due to be held in the Scottish City in November.
Four priorities for COP26 were outlined by Guterres: More ambitious national climate plans that will keep global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels; strategies to reach net zero emissions by 2050; a comprehensive programme of support for climate adaptation and resilience; and financing for a sustainable, green economy.