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UN Chief Urges Urgent Global Climate Action in the Face of Melting Ice and Fossil Fuel Threats

By: ATN News

In a recent press encounter at the UN Headquarters António Guterres the Secretary-General of the United Nations conveyed a stark message about the alarming state of Antarctica, describing it as a "sleeping giant" now awakened by climate chaos. The Secretary-General, who had just returned from Antarctica, emphasized the rapid melting of Antarctica and Greenland, which is occurring at a rate over three times faster than in the early 1990s.

The UN Chief highlighted the significance of the melting ice in Antarctica, pointing out that the Antarctic sea ice in September was 1.5 million square kilometers smaller than the average for that time of year. This loss, equivalent to the combined size of Portugal, Spain, France, and Germany, represents a critical issue with global implications. The Secretary-General underscored the interconnectedness of the world, emphasizing that the consequences of Antarctic melting, such as rising sea levels, affect coastal communities worldwide, jeopardizing lives, livelihoods, and food and water security.

The cause of this environmental degradation, according to Mr. Guterres, is unequivocally linked to fossil fuel pollution. Without a change in current practices, the Secretary-General warned of a calamitous three-degree Celsius temperature rise by the end of the century, with sea surface temperatures already at record highs.

The Secretary-General urged leaders to take decisive action at COP28, emphasizing well-known solutions, including limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, transitioning away from fossil fuels, and committing to renewable energy and energy efficiency goals by 2030. The call for climate justice, with increased investment in adaptation and loss and damage, was also emphasized.

Turning to the Middle East, the Secretary-General responded to questions about allegations of the UAE negotiating carbon fuel deals on the sidelines of COP, expressing skepticism. Regarding the ceasefire in Gaza, the Secretary-General acknowledged it as a glimmer of hope amid the darkness of war, emphasizing the need for increased humanitarian aid to address the dramatic needs of the population in Gaza.

On the Middle East conflict, the Secretary-General addressed concerns about aid deliveries through the Kerem Shalom crossing and outlined the vision for a reinvigorated Palestinian Authority to govern Gaza in the aftermath of a ceasefire. The Secretary-General expressed hope for additional crossings, facilitating aid distribution and Israeli control.

In response to a question about the impact of renewable energy, the Secretary-General affirmed that it is not too late to avert catastrophe in Antarctica and globally, emphasizing the need for political will to implement crucial decisions on renewables, energy efficiency, and phasing out fossil fuels.

Lastly, the Secretary-General was asked by Ahmed Fathi Managing Editor of ATN News, about the role of civil society in climate action and inquired about the Secretary-General's plans to engage with civil society, particularly in light of recent reports about the UAE engaging in negotiations with 15 nations to sell fossil fuel oil and LNG. The Secretary-General responded by acknowledging the paramount importance of climate as a defining issue of our times and connecting climate advocacy with passion for humanity. The Secretary-General mentioned having already met with key civil society leaders in preparation for COP and expressed the intention to engage intensively with civil society during the conference in Dubai.

The press encounter provided a comprehensive overview of the Secretary-General's concerns, from the critical state of Antarctica to the urgent need for global climate action and the complexities of the Middle East situation.


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