We are facing a catastrophic climate pandemic: UN Boss

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres gestures during an interview with Reuters at the United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, New York, September 15, 2021. Andrew Kelly | Reuters

NEW YORK - The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres has said the world is in a “sorry state” with problems “piling up like cars in a chain-reaction crash” as he cast a gloomy picture at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Guterres added that the parlous state was a result of interlinked problems such as the Russia-Ukraine war and a global economic slowdown that had no easy solutions.

He singled out climate change as an “existential challenge,” and said a global commitment to limit the Earth’s temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius was “nearly going up in smoke.”

The UN boss also accused oil firms of peddling a “big lie,” pointing to what he described as their role in global warming and he demanded they be held accountable.
“We learned last week that certain fossil fuel producers were fully aware in the 1970s that their core product was baking our planet,” Guterres said.

Guterres was referring to a study published in the journal Science which showed that ExxonMobil scientists had modeled and predicted global warming “with shocking accuracy” decades ago. The company did not act on the study.

“Just like the tobacco industry, they rode rough-shod over their own science, and like the tobacco industry, those responsible must be held to account,” he added.

He made reference to 1998 when US states won a landmark settlement against tobacco companies worth $246 billion aimed at recovering the costs of health treatment for smokers.

The world is “plagued” with widening inequality, a cost-of-living crisis sparked by soaring inflation, high-interest rates, and an energy crunch, lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, supply-chain disruptions, and more.

He called upon the US and China needed to work more closely on climate, trade, technology, and human rights to prevent confrontation.


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