Humanity has opened gates of hell on climate, says Guterres

"Every company that truly means business must create just transition plans that credibly cut emissions and deliver climate justice," he said

António Guterres, prime minister of Portugal (Photo: IANS)
António Guterres, prime minister of Portugal (Photo: IANS)


"Humanity has opened the gates of hell. Horrendous heat is having horrendous effects - distraught farmers watching crops carried away by floods, sweltering temperatures spawning disease, and thousands fleeing in fear as historic fires rage," António Guterres, prime minister of Portugal, told the Climate Ambition Summit, held during the high-level week of the General Assembly on Wednesday, 20 September, Xinhua news agency reported.

Climate action is dwarfed by the scale of the challenge. If nothing changes, the world is heading toward a 2.8-degree temperature rise - toward a dangerous and unstable world, he warned.

He called for climate action to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees.

The move from fossil fuels to renewables is too slow, he said. "We must make up time lost to foot-dragging, arm-twisting and the naked greed of entrenched interests raking in billions from fossil fuels."

The proposed Climate Solidarity Pact calls on major emitters, who have benefitted most from fossil fuels, to make extra efforts to cut emissions, and on wealthy countries to support emerging economies to do so. Developed countries must reach net-zero emissions as close as possible to 2040, and emerging economies as close as possible to 2050 according to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, he said.

There is a need for a transformation to rebuild trust. Governments must push the global financial system toward supporting climate action. That means putting a price on carbon, and overhauling the business models of multilateral development banks so that they leverage far more private finance at reasonable cost to developing countries, he said.

All parties must operationalize the Loss and Damage Fund at this year's UN Climate Change Conference. Developed countries must meet the 100-billion-U.S.-dollar commitment for developing countries, replenish the Green Climate Fund, and double adaptation funding. And everyone must be covered by an early warning system by 2027, said Guterres.

At the same time, he said, business and financial institutions must embark on true net-zero pathways.

Shady pledges have betrayed the public trust. Shamefully, some companies have even tried to block the transition to net zero, using wealth and influence to delay, distract and deceive, he said. "Every company that truly means business must create just transition plans that credibly cut emissions and deliver climate justice." 

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