Don’t ‘Drown’ The World, UN Chief Makes Climate Appeal To World Leaders Ahead Of UNGA Summit

As climate crises engulf various parts of the world, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday said his “clear” message to global leaders gathering for the high-level General Assembly is to lower the temperature so as not to ‘drown’ the world.

Guterres, who recently returned from a visit to flood-ravaged Pakistan, told reporters at the UN Headquarters Wednesday that in Pakistan, he looked through a window into the future.

“A future of permanent and ubiquitous climate chaos on an unimaginable scale: Devastating loss of life, enormous human suffering and massive damage to infrastructure and livelihood,” he said.

“What is happening in Pakistan demonstrates the sheer inadequacy of the global response to the climate crisis, and the betrayal and injustice at the heart of it. Whether it’s Pakistan, the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, small islands or Least Developed Countries, the world’s most vulnerable – who did nothing to cause this crisis – are paying a horrific price for decades of intransigence by big emitters,” Guterres said as dozens of global leaders were due to arrive in New York for the UN General Assembly High-Level Week.

Guterres said G20 countries are responsible for 80% of emissions. They are also suffering the impact of record droughts, fires and floods – but climate action seems to be flatlining. “If one-third of G20 countries was under water today, as it could be tomorrow, perhaps they would find it easier to agree on drastic cuts to emissions,” he said.

As world leaders gather here for the high-level 77th session of the UN General Assembly, Guterres said his message to them is “clear: Lower the temperature — now. Don’t flood the world today; don’t drown it tomorrow.”

The high-level UNGA week comes at time of “great peril”, Guterres said, adding that “geostrategic divides are the widest they have been since at least the Cold War. They are paralyzing the global response to the dramatic challenges we face. Our world is blighted by war, battered by climate chaos, scarred by hate, and shamed by poverty, hunger, and inequality. Conflicts and unrest continue to rage.”

He noted that the war in Ukraine is devastating a country — and dragging down the global economy. “Despite the Black Sea Grain Initiative and the agreement to get Russian food and fertilizers to global markets, there is a real risk of multiple famines this year.”

The UN chief underlined that his speech to the General Assembly will address the global issues with concrete recommendations and a call to action.

“As fractures deepen and trust evaporates, we need to come together around solutions. Solutions like those that will be showcased at the Transforming Education Summit,” he said.

“People need to see results in their everyday lives, or they will lose faith in their governments and institutions, and hope in the future.”

Guterres noted with concern that global hunger began to rise before the pandemic and has never recovered and the cost-of-living crisis is hitting the poorest people and communities hardest. The rights of women and girls are going into reverse and most developing countries have no fiscal space, and no access to the financial resources needed to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and protect their people from the devastating impact of climate change.

“The solidarity envisioned in the United Nations Charter is being devoured by the acids of nationalism and self-interest,” he said.

Guterres urged that this year’s General Debate must be about providing hope. ‘That hope can only come through the dialogue and debate that are the beating heart of the United Nations.”