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Old 04-28-2020, 11:44 AM
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Arrow How These Two Countries Could Doom Earth, According To UN Chief

How These Two Countries Could Doom Earth, According To UN Chief
By: David Vetter - Forbes - 04-28-20

The head of the United Nations has delivered a stern warning to the United States and China that, without their contribution, global efforts in tackling climate change “risk to be doomed.”

Speaking to a live-streamed 11th Petersberg Climate Dialogue on Tuesday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: “The key to tackling the climate crisis is the big emitters. Let us not forget that the G20 countries collectively account for more than 80% of global emissions and over 85% of the global economy. All of them must also commit to carbon neutrality by 2050.”

“The Paris agreement was largely made possible by the engagement of the United States and China,” Guterres said. “Without the contribution of the big emitters, all efforts risk to be doomed.”

The words were a clear admonition to the world’s two largest emitters that, in their economic recovery from the effects of coronavirus, delayed climate action would result in a crisis orders of magnitude worse.

Neither the U.S. nor China were among the 77 nations that committed to carbon neutrality by 2050 at the UN Climate Action Summit last year.

Referring to climate commitments, Guterres said: “The highest cost is the cost of doing nothing. We must urgently put in place measures to strengthen resilience and cut greenhouse gas emissions to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees,” noting that despite the public appetite for green initiatives, “we still lack the necessary political will in many parts of the world.”

Organized by Germany, the Petersberg Climate Dialogue is an annual meeting of ministers from 30 nations to discuss climate action. This year the dialogue was held online, owing to travel restrictions caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

As head of the conference’s host nation, German chancellor Angela Merkel said:

“The coronavirus pandemic shows us yet again, albeit in a particularly painful way, that international cooperation is crucial in our closely interconnected world; the well-being of a nation depends on the well-being of all nations ... For all of these great challenges, one thing is true: the more we work together the better we can avoid human suffering.”

Merkel stressed the importance of large-scale financing for climate-friendly projects and the necessity for internationally agreed CO2 pricing. She added that nations should not fall prey to the temptation to deprioritize climate action in favor of short-term economic stimulus measures. Noting that 60% of outbreaks of recent infectious disease outbreaks have come from animals, Merkel said there is “no other option but to make progress in the international protection of biodiversity” ahead of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which has been postponed due to the coronavirus.

Guterres and Merkel’s comments echo calls made yesterday by a team of experts that in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, economic stimulus measures must safeguard nature or risk exposing humanity to further pandemics.

In their statement to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), biologist Josef Settele, ecologist Sandra Díaz, anthropologist Eduardo Brondizio and zoologist Peter Daszak wrote: “Rampant deforestation, uncontrolled expansion of agriculture, intensive farming, mining and infrastructure development, as well as the exploitation of wild species have created a ‘perfect storm’ for the spillover of diseases from wildlife to people.”

To mitigate that risk, the scientists called on governments to strengthen enforcement of environmental protection rules, adopt “One Health” policies that take into account the connection between the health of the ecosystem and the health of humans, and to properly fund healthcare systems in disease hotspots.

“Responding to the COVID-19 crisis calls for us all to confront the vested interests that oppose transformative change, and to end ‘business as usual’,” the statement read.

Speaking in response to Guterres’s address, Helen Clarkson, CEO of non-profit The Climate Group, said: “This pandemic is an unprecedented global catastrophe, but that means the opportunity for rebuilding is also unprecedented. With the right green stimulus policies in place that ramp up investment in long-term, sustainable solutions from electric transport to clean, efficient energy, we can deliver on the goals of the Paris Agreement without compromising on economic growth.”

About this writer: David Vetter: I have spent much of the past 20 years as a journalist in Asia, where I found the collision between humanity and the natural environment to be increasingly stark and the impacts of climate change ever more immediate. Now back in Europe, I am principally concerned with renewable energy and the urgent need to develop large-scale systems for reducing our collective carbon footprint.

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