During a joint press conference with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Sunday, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres had a grim warning for the public: the world is “facing a climate emergency” and is “not on track” to meet the objectives outlined in the Paris Agreement.
Guterres explained that the political will to fight climate change has faded, resulting in “climate change [is] running faster than what we are.”
The fact of the matter, says Guterres, is that countries are not living up to their commitments under the 2016 Paris Agreement, which calls for limiting temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“We are seeing everywhere a clear demonstration that we are not on track to achieve the objectives defined in the Paris Agreement,” Guterres said. “The paradox is that as things are getting worse on the ground, political will seems to be fading.”
Gueterres is visiting New Zealand this week as a part of the trip to the South Pacific to highlight to tremendous effects of climate change on Pacific Island nations. Pacific Island countries are especially at risk due to sea level rise as a result of climate change.
The UN chief pointed out New Zealand remains one of the few countries taking bold measures to fight climate change. The country recently introduced a new bill to make it mostly carbon neutral by 2050.
Gueterres stresses that more countries need to follow in the footsteps of those like New Zealand, “We cannot allow for a runaway climate change,” Guterres said Sunday. “We need to protect the lives of all people and we need to protect our planet.”
Meanwhile, the United States is approaching the two year anniversary of abandoning the Paris Climate Agreement. The Trump Administration continues to push fossil fuel-friendly legislation, as it has done since Trump was elected President.
According to data released in February by the National Oceanic Atmosphere Administration (NOAA), the past five years (2014-2018) have been the hottest years ever recorded and have included more intense hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, and flooding. Furthermore, according to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), under the current emissions path, the world will cross the 1.5-degree threshold by 2040.