UN chief: ‘Pivotal moment’ for fighting warming

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the world has reached “a pivotal moment” in global warming and risks runaway climate change if leaders don’t act in the next two years.

He told world leaders at the UN General Assembly that they aren’t doing enough to combat what he calls “a direct existential threat” that is moving faster than people are working to combat it.

He noted that thick, permanent sea ice north of Greenland began to break up this year for the first time.

Heurged for the international Paris climate change agreement to be implemented. US President Donald Trump has announced he’s withdrawing his country from the pact.

Guterres is planning a climate summit next year.

President Donald Trump listens as United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks at the United Nations General Assembly. – AP

He said the principle of multinational cooperation “is under fire precisely when we need it most”.

The UN chief issued a sweeping appeal to revive multilateralism as he spoke yesterday at the opening of the UN General Assembly.

He said that at a time of “massive, existential threats” to people and the planet, “there is no way forward but collective, common-sense action for the common good”.

Guterres warned of rising populism and polarisation within nations.

He said their leaders have the duty to improve their people’s well-being, but also to “promote and support a reformed, reinvigorated and strengthened multilateral system”.

The UN Chief told leaders from around the world that it “is suffering from a bad case of ‘Trust Deficit Disorder’.”

And Guterres said “democratic principles are under siege”.

Presidents, prime ministers, monarchs and high-ranking ministers from 133 countries have signed up to attend the weeklong session.

Among them are many defenders of the international order, but also such populist leaders as US President Donald Trump, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte.

UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq gave a preview the UN chief’s address saying he will “also sound the alarm on climate change” and stress that all people must benefit from new technologies “while safeguarding against the dangers from malicious acts in cyberspace to the weaponisation of artificial intelligence”.

He said Guterres will also appeal to world leaders “for greater solidarity in advancing peace, human rights and sustainable development,” he said.

This year, 133 world leaders have signed up to attend the General Assembly session, up from 114 leaders last year.