Global climate goal ‘gasping for breath,’ UN chief says 

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United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday said that the goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is “gasping for breath” as nations fall short of the international community’s climate goals.  

“We are still moving in the wrong direction. The global emissions gap is growing. The 1.5-degree goal is gasping for breath. National climate plans are falling woefully short,” Guterres said in remarks at an end-of-year press conference at the U.N.’s New York headquarters.

Global governments agreed to goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) with the 2015 Paris Agreement, but countries have struggled to stay on track — and some expressed resistance to the goal during the U.N.’s COP27 climate summit last month.

But the UN chief followed up his bleak picture of the current climate with a message of determination to keep warming within the set threshold.  

“And yet, we are not retreating. We are fighting back. … I have pulled no punches on the imperative for all of us to confront this existential threat. And I will not relent,” Guterres said.  

Guterres announced that the U.N. will hold a Climate Ambition Summit in September of next year, ahead of the COP28 climate conference set to convene in November in Dubai.  

“I call on every leader to step up – from governments, business, cities and regions, civil society and finance. Come with new, tangible and credible climate action to accelerate the pace of change,” Guterres said, calling the upcoming event a “no-nonsense” conference.  

“The invitation is open. But the price of entry is non-negotiable — credible, serious and new climate action and nature-based solutions that will move the needle forward and respond to the urgency of the climate crisis.” 

He lauded some progress made at this year’s COP27 climate summit and said the U.N. will “keep pushing” for countries to agree to a Climate Solidarity Pact, a deal that would help phase out coal-powered plants by 2040, among other goals.  

In his opening remarks at the COP27 summit last month, Guterres said “it is either a Climate Solidarity Pact — or a Collective Suicide Pact.”

Guterres’s comments on the global warming goal come shortly after a historic deal was reached at the U.N.’s biodiversity conference to protect nearly a third of land and water considered important for biodiversity by 2030.

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