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UN chief demands G20 leaders act to stop climate crisis ‘spinning out of control’

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (REUTERS)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (REUTERS)

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called on world leaders to take decisive action to stop the climate crisis “spinning out of control".

The UN’s top boss called on world leaders to commit to keeping global warming to as low as possible and criticised the lack of ambition and urgency in tackling the crisis.

Speaking in New Delhi, where the G20 summit is taking place this weekend, Mr Guterres said: “The climate crisis is worsening dramatically, but the collective response is lacking in ambition, credibility, and urgency.”

He asked the G20 to commit to keeping the “1.5 degree goal alive" - referring to the 2015 Paris Agreement goal of limiting the global average temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and aiming for 1.5 degrees.

“I have put forward a Climate Solidarity Pact, in which big emitters make extra efforts to cut emissions; and wealthier countries support emerging economies to achieve this,” he said.

The plan urges developed countries to reach net-zero as close as possible to 2040, and emerging economies as close as possible to 2050.

It also proposes a phase out of coal by 2030 in developed countries and 2040 in all others.

“The climate crisis is spiralling out of control. But G20 countries are in control," he said.

“Together, G20 countries are responsible for 80 per cent of global emissions. Half-measures will not prevent full climate breakdown."

Asked separately about the war in Ukraine, he said: “I’m not very hopeful that we’ll have a peace solution in the immediate future. I believe the two parties are still deciding to move on with the conflict.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is attending the summit which he said he intends to use to “put pressure" on Moscow, amid global concerns over the blockade of grain out of Ukraine.

“One of the priorities I have being here is to highlight the impact of Russia’s war on millions of vulnerable people around the world. And that’s the impact of food prices,” Mr Sunak said.

He condemned Russia’s decision to pull out of the Black Sea Grain initiative, which allowed ships carrying grain to leave southern Ukrainian ports without fear of attack, in July.

The Kremlin said the deal, brokered by Turkey and the United Nations, will not be restored until the West meets Moscow’s demands on its own agricultural exports.