UN chief 'very worried' over possible COP26 failure

Held between 31 October and 12 November, the Glasgow gathering is seen as a crucial step in setting worldwide emission targets to slow global warming.

FILE: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres virtually addresses a roundtable on Climate Ambition during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, on 24 September 2020, in New York. Picture: AFP

PARIS - UN chief Antonio Guterres said Thursday that the current climate situation was "a one-way ticket for disaster" and stressed the need to "avoid a failure" at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, struck at the COP21 summit, called for capping global warming at well below 2C above the pre-industrial level, and ideally closer to 1.5C. But current UN estimates indicate a "catastrophic" warming of 2.7C is on the cards.

Guterres said the present indications "show a pathway of at least 2.7C heating above pre-industrial levels, and that’s obviously a one-way ticket for disaster."

"The carbon pollution of a handful of countries has brought humanity to its knees and they bear the greatest responsability," he told an online press conference with members of the Covering Climate Now international project.

"I hope we are still on time to avoid a failure in Glasgow, but time is running short, and things are getting more difficult and that is why I’m very very worried. I’m afraid things might get wrong," he said.

"The G20 leaders will meet in Rome and they know their economies are responsible for four-fifth of planet carbon pollution," Guterres said.

"If they do not stand up ... we are headed for terrible human sufferings," he added.

He said: "China and the United States must do more than what they have announced so far."

Held between 31 October and 12 November, the Glasgow gathering is seen as a crucial step in setting worldwide emission targets to slow global warming.

Download the Eyewitness News app to your iOS or Android device.