United Nations — “Humanity is in the hot seat today,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told journalists as the world confronted official data confirming that July 2023 is the hottest month ever recorded in human history.
This includes the hottest three-week period on record, three hottest days on record, and the highest-ever ocean temperatures for this time of year. Workers, children, and families around the world have felt the scorching effects of the cruel summer as they struggle to breathe and bear the heat, Guterres said.
“For scientists, it is unequivocal that humans are to blame. All this is entirely consistent with predictions and repeated warnings. The only surprise is the speed of the change.”
The secretary-general declared that inaction and excuses were unacceptable. In order to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, accelerated action is required. This is especially true for the world’s largest economies.
“Leaders and particularly G20 countries responsible for 80 percent of global emissions must step up for climate action and climate justice,” Guterres said.
To reach this goal, Guterres asked developed countries to aim for zero emissions by 2040. Emerging economies should reach the same goal by 2050 with support from developed countries. He urged companies, cities, regions, and financial institutions to create credible plans to transition to renewable energy from fossil fuels.
“No more greenwashing, no more deception, and no more abusive distortion of antitrust laws to sabotage net zero alliances,” Guterres said.
When asked how he planned to hold countries accountable to climate action, Guterres said that only those who have made clear commitments would be able to go to the Climate Action Summit.
Guterres warned countries to protect their people from extreme weather, which is becoming the norm. He noted that this burden is acutely placed on developing countries and small island nations.
“Those countries on the frontlines who have done the least to cause the crisis and have the least resources to deal with it must have the support they need to do so.”
Funding for environmental protection efforts also remains inadequate. Guterres expressed concern that only two G7 countries, Canada and Germany, have pledged to replenish their Green Climate funds. He called for dramatic changes to the global financing system that supports climate action.
“Climate change is here. It is terrifying. And it is just the beginning. The era of global warming has ended, and the era of global boiling has arrived,” Guterres said.
“We must turn a year of burning heat into a year of burning ambition and accelerate climate action now.”
IPS UN Bureau Report