UN chief calls on the world to reject date with doomsday

World | ASSOCIATED PRESS 3 Dec 2019

United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres yesterday urged people not to quit the fight against climate change as representatives from nearly 200 countries gathered in Madrid for a two-week meeting on global warming.

He cited data showing levels of heat-trapping gases at levels not seen for at least three million years when sea levels were 10-20 meters higher than today.

Unless emissions of gases are cut drastically temperatures could rise to twice the threshold set in the 2015 Paris accord by the end of the century, he warned, asking: "Do we really want to be remembered as the generation that ... fiddled while the planet burned?''

His appeal came after Chile's environment minister, Carolina Schmidt, said the meeting needs to lay the groundwork for moving toward carbon-neutral economies while being sensitive to the poorest and those most vulnerable to rising temperatures.

The meeting aims to put the finishing touches to the rules governing the Paris accord.

That involves creating an emissions-trading system and compensating poor countries for losses they suffer from rising sea levels and other ravages of change.

Countries agreed in Paris to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius - ideally 1.5 degrees - by the end of the century compared with pre-industrial times. But average temperatures have already increased by about 1 degree.

Guterres said that unless the world stops burning coal "all our efforts to tackle climate change will be doomed."

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