Climate change is the defining issue of our time and we are now facing a race against time to do something about it. If tackled accordingly, it’s not too late, but effort and consensus is required from all sectors of society.
The summit was designed to accelerate countries’ ambition to address the climate crisis amid increasingly urgent warnings by scientists. The world is currently on track to warm by as much as 3.4C by the end of the century, the UN warned, a situation that would escalate disastrous heat-waves, flooding, droughts and societal unrest. Major coral reefs and many other species face extinction.
To meet the 2015 Paris agreement of holding the temperature rise to at least 2C above the pre-industrial era commitments to cut planet-warming gases must me increased by up to fivefold.
The Summit aimed to showcase a leap in collective national political ambition and demonstrate massive movements in real economy in support of the agenda. However, of 60 speeches from national representatives which were presented at the summit, many fell short of expectations. As predicted by Greta Thunberg.
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, did set out the end of coal-mining in her country but only by 2038 – a lengthy time-frame that disappointed environmentalists.
Meanwhile, China declined to put forward any new measures to tackle the climate crisis.
Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, told delegates that “the time for talking is over” in announcing a plan to enhance renewable energy but didn’t announce any phase-out of coal – a key goal set by António Guterres, the UN secretary-general who cited the summit.
Emmanuel Macron, the French president, called for the European Union to deepen its emissions cuts and said that France would not make trade deals with countries not signed up tor the landmark Paris climate agreement.
Two days before (Saturday) the Youth Climate Summit took place, a likewise platform for young leaders, who are driving climate action, to showcase their solutions at the United Nations, and to meaningfully engage with decision-makers on the defining issue of our time.
It was the sixteen year old Greta Thunberg who has condemned world leaders for their “betrayal” of young people through their inactivity over the climate crisis during the United Nations summit. Stressing the failure to deliver ambitious new commitments to address dangerous global heating.
Thunberg predicted the summit would not deliver any new plans in line with the radical cuts in greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are needed to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown. “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” Thunberg stated, visibly emotional.
“The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us I say we will never forgive you…”
This summit will be followed by the 2nd World Congress on Climate Change to be held September 26-28, 2019 at Berlin, Germany.