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Guterres: world's need for climate action unprecedented

NEW YORK, June 5 (KUNA) -- "It's climate crunch time" when it comes to tackling rising carbon emissions the UN Secretary-General said on Wednesday, stressing that while the need for global action is unprecedented, so too are the opportunities for prosperity and sustainable development.
Choosing the iconic Family Hall of Ocean Life at the American Museum of Natural History in New York to deliver his impassioned plea to grasp the solutions at hand, Antonio Guterres warned that "we stand at a moment of truth".
"In the case of climate, we are not the dinosaurs. We are the meteor. We are not only in danger - we are the danger. But we are also the solution," he said.
Citing the latest European Commission Copernicus Climate Change Service report showing last month was the hottest May in history, the UN chief said global emissions need to fall nine percent every year just to keep the 1.5 C temperature rise limit above pre-industrial levels alive.
Last year they went up by one percent.
The UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) also reported on Wednesday that there is an 80 percent chance the 1.5 C limit - the target established in the Paris Agreement in 2015 - will be passed in one of the next five years.
"We are playing Russian roulette with our planet", said Guterres. "We need an exit ramp off the highway to climate hell. And the truth is - we have control of the wheel." Pulling back from the brink "is still just about possible", he continued, but only if we fight harder. It all depends on decisions taken by political leaders during this decade and "especially in the next 18 months." "The need for climate action is unprecedented but so is the opportunity - not just to deliver on climate but on economic prosperity and sustainable development," Guterres explained.
The renewable energy business worldwide is booming as costs plummet and now make up 30 percent of the world's electricity supply.
Meanwhile, clean energy investments reached a record high last year, almost doubling in the past decade, the UN chief said.
To ensure the safest possible future for humankind and the planet, he laid out the urgent action that must be taken: slash emissions; protect people and nature from climate extremes; boost climate finance; clamp down on the fossil fuel business. The biggest burden for action must fall on the richest nations and biggest emitters: "Advanced G20 economies should go furthest, fastest" while also providing technical and financial support to developing nations.
The Secretary-General called on national climate action plans to fall in line with the 1.5 C limit and include absolute emission reduction targets for 2030, 2035 and all the global milestones along the way in the decades ahead.
"Every country must deliver and play their rightful part...We need cooperation, not finger-pointing", Guterres declared.
In terms of climate justice, he said it was a disgrace that most vulnerable nations are being left stranded with the impacts of a climate crisis they did nothing to create.
"We cannot accept a future where the rich are protected in air-conditioned bubbles while the rest of humanity is lashed by lethal weather in unlivable lands." Fairer climate finance and an end to the crippling debt and high interest rates that many developing nations have to endure is not a question of charity, he added, but about "enlightened self-interest".
"Climate finance is not a favor. It is a fundamental element to a livable future for all," he said.
People around the world are "far ahead of the politicians. Make your voices heard and your choices count", he implored.
"Now is the time to mobilise, now is the time to act, now is the time to deliver. This is our moment of truth." (end) ast.ibi