United Nations Secretary General António Guterres this week launched the update report on the progress of achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that commit countries to tackle climate change, end all forms of poverty and fight inequalities.
At the outset of the High-level Political Fourm on Sustainable Development in New York, UN Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) chief, Liu Zhenmin said that the clock for taking action on climate change is ticking. “The challenges highlighted in this report are global problems that require global solutions,” said Mr. Liu. “Just as problems are interrelated, the solutions to poverty, inequality, climate change and other global challenges are also interlinked.” Liu stressed the need for international cooperation and multilateral action.
Last year Mr Guterres described climate change as an “existential threat”, affecting water availability, food supplies, and places where people live. Climate change will also have an impact on whether the UN can achieve its SDG targets by 2030.
This report suggests that there are positive steps in terms of individual countries commitment and ability to develop climate change plans. However, Mr Guterres has called for “far more ambitious plans and accelerated action” on climate mitigation and adaptation.
The target, as agreed by world leaders, is to keep the rate of global warming to below 2°C and, if possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The average global temperature is already 1°C above pre-industrial levels but if not enough is done then warming will continue at an unsustainable pace and could well exceed 3°C by the end of the century.
"The compounded effects will be catastrophic and irreversible," added Liu Zhenmin, listing increased extreme weather events, more severe natural disasters and land degradation. "These effects, which will render many parts of the globe uninhabitable, will affect the poor the most."