In this photo taken Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018, a bird flies past as smoke emits from the chimneys of Serbia’s main coal-fired power station near Kostolac, Serbia. The COP 24 UN Climate Change Conference is taking place in Katowice, Poland. Negotiators from around the world are meeting for talks on curbing climate change. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

In this photo taken Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018, a bird flies past as smoke emits from the chimneys of Serbia’s main coal-fired power station near Kostolac, Serbia. The COP 24 UN Climate Change Conference is taking place in Katowice, Poland. Negotiators from around the world are meeting for talks on curbing climate change. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

UN chief issues dramatic climate appeal to world leaders

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks at climate summit in Poland

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the climate summit in Poland by issuing a dramatic appeal to world leaders Monday to take seriously the threat of global warming and act boldly to avert a catastrophic rise in temperatures before the end of the century.

Guterres named climate change as “the most important issue we face.”

RELATED: Trump barrels into G-20 summit after nixing Putin meeting

“Even as we witness devastating climate impacts causing havoc across the world, we are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough, to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption,” Guterres told representatives from almost 200 countries gathered in Katowice, Poland.

The U.N. chief chided countries, particularly those most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, for failing to do enough to meet the goals of the Paris climate accord. The 2015 agreement set a goal of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), ideally 1.5 C (2.7 F) by the end of the century.

Citing a recent scientific report on the dire consequences of letting average global temperatures rise beyond 1.5 degrees, Guterres urged countries to cut their emissions by 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030 and aim for net zero emissions by 2050.

Such a move, which experts say is the only way to achieve the 1.5-degree goal, would require a radical overhaul of the global economy.

“In short, we need a complete transformation of our global energy economy, as well as how we manage land and forest resources,” Guterres said.

He said governments should embrace the opportunities rather than cling to fossil fuels such as coal, which are blamed for a significant share of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

In order to steer businesses and consumers away from heavily polluting forms of energy, he urged countries to embrace carbon pricing, something few countries have yet to do.

Guterres also called on negotiators not to lose sight of the fact that the challenges they face pale in comparison to the difficulties already caused by climate change to millions of people around the world seeing their livelihoods at risk from rising sea levels, drought and more powerful storms.

The two-week conference, in Poland’s southern coal mining region of Silesia, is expected to work out how governments can report on their efforts to reduce green gas emission and keep global warming within the Paris accord limit.

RELATED: World eyes trade tension as Trudeau arrives at high-drama G20 summit

“This is the challenge on which this generation’s leaders will be judged,” Guterres said.

Host Poland proposed a declaration for a “just transition” away from coal mining, the supplier of its main source of energy, which calls for winning social acceptance for the necessary changes.

Fiji’s prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, who presided over last year’s summit, said the “just transition” proposal shouldn’t just consider the fate of workers in the fossil fuel industries, but all people around the world whose lives are affected by climate change.

Frank Jordans And Monika Scislowska, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Real estate sales in the South Okanagan grew by more than any other part of the province in 2020. (Marissa Tiel - Black Press)
South Okanagan hottest real estate market in B.C.

There was over $1 billion in residential sales in 2020

The municipality of Summerland is considering a 1.65 per cent property tax increase for 2021. The increase is lower than tax increases in previous years. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Summerland taxes expected to rise by 1.65%

Increases also forecast for Summerland utility rates

Maggie Fowler, left, and Gabby Friesen of the Keremeos branch of the Royal Canadian Legion receiving monies from the federal government under the Veterans Organizations Emergency Support Fund. (Submitted)
Keremeos Royal Canadian Legion branch receives federal support

The funds are part of $20 million in support to veterans’ organizations across Canada

One Okanagan man bought and delivered enough food for 10 Christmas dinners for families and individuals in need. (Bruce Shouldice photo)
Okanagan man makes a difference at Christmas

Columnist Carole Fawcett shines light on Good Samaritan

The Peach is looking ready for its COVID Christmas. (Monique Tamminga/Black Press)
T’was the night before Christmas in the Okanagan

It’s true that this year has had sadness aplenty, we’ll never forget the year 2020

Brett Forsythe battles it out in a game of singles pickleball on ice at Okanagan Training Rink Thursday, Jan. 7 in support of the Vernon Food Bank. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Pickleball play hits the ice in Okanagan

Rivals battle it out in support of the food bank

Penticton’s 7-Eleven is closed due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19, the company announced Jan. 15, 2021. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton 7-Eleven closed after employee tests positive for COVID-19

The store will re-open “on or before” Jan. 23

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government announces creation of B.C.’s first anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

With a second case of COVID-19 confirmed at South Canoe Elementary, parents were advised Thursday, Jan. 14, that the school could be closed for a week or so. (Contributed)
Closure considered after four cases of COVID-19 identified at Salmon Arm school

South Canoe Elementary principal grateful for concern and support shown by public

Deb White, carnival chairwoman, rode in on style Saturday during the parade. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)
Pandemic postpones parade, heart of Vernon Winter Carnival

Interior Health says no to one of B.C.’s only winter parades

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Phase 4 of the Kicking Horse Canyon Project is on track, despite COVID-19 and the recent provincial election. (Government of BC photo)
1 month closure planned for Highway 1 near Golden

This closure is expected from April 12 until May 14. Others are planned in the future.

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Megan Freedman’s music video for Perfect was shot at the Lindon House on Ethel Street. (Perfect - Megan Freedman)
Kelowna musician’s anti-bullying anthem receives international award

The music video was shot at Kelowna’s Lindon House

Most Read