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UN chief warns of ‘point of no return’ over climate change

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Sunday that the world’s efforts to stop climate change have been “utterly inadequate” so far and there is a danger global warming could pass the “point of no return.”

Guterres said growing demands from citizens, particularly young people, have shown there is widespread desire for climate action.

He noted that the world has the scientific knowledge and the technical means to limit global warming, but “what is lacking is political will.”

“The point of no return is no longer over the horizon,” He told to reporters in the Spanish capital. “It is in sight and hurtling toward us."

Speaking before the start Monday of a two-week international climate conference in Madrid, the U.N. chief said the impact of rising temperatures — including more extreme weather — is already being felt around the world, with dramatic consequences for humans and other species

“What is still lacking is political will,” he said. “Political will to put a price on carbon. Political will to stop subsidies on fossil fuels. Political will to stop building coal power plants from 2020 onwards. Political will to shift taxation from income to carbon. Taxing pollution instead of people.”

U.N. Secretary noted that some 70 countries — many of them among the most vulnerable to climate change have pledged to stop emitting more greenhouse gases by 2050.

Delegates from almost 200 countries will try to put the finishing touches on the rules governing the 2015 Paris climate accord at the Dec. 2-13 meeting, including how to create functioning international emissions trading systems and compensate poor countries for losses they suffer from rising sea levels and other consequences of climate change.

Countries agreed in Paris four years ago to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), ideally 1.5C (2.7F) by the end of the century compared with pre-industrial times. Already, average temperatures have increased by about 1C, leaving little room for the more ambitious target to be met.

AP

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