Climate Change

Climate change running faster than we are: UN Secretary General on Kerala floods

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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, at the launch of the 2018 New Climate Economy report on Wednesday, expressed concern over the unprecedented and damaging floods in Kerala and California’s wildfires, saying that ‘climate change is running faster than we are’. He urged action for prevention of crises relate to climate.

Last year, the UN chief said that climate-related disasters were responsible for thousands of deaths and USD 320 billion dollars in losses.

“Climate change is running faster than we are. The impacts are devastating, and it is usually the poorest and the most vulnerable who are hit first and worst by storms, floods, droughts, wildfires and rising seas,” Guterres said.

“This year, we have seen the terrible flooding in Kerala in India, savage wildfires in California and Canada, and dramatic warming in the Arctic that is affecting weather patterns across the northern hemisphere. The trend is clear. The last 19 years included 18 of the warmest years on record, and greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere continue to rise,” he said.

Gueterres said that runaway climate change is a real possibility, with severe implications for communities, economies, peace and the security of nations.

“Climate change has been proven to amplify and exacerbate other risks. Put simply, we need climate action to prevent ever greater crises. We must act with greater ambition and urgency,” he said.

The document reveals that the benefits of smarter and clearer growth are significantly under-estimated, and that bold climate action could deliver USD 26 trillion in economic benefits through to 2030. The document was published by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate a project comprising several UN bodies.

Other benefits include creation of over 65 million new low-carbon jobs, and 700,000 fewer air pollution-related deaths.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former finance minister of Nigeria who was co-chairing the Global Commission, said, “Policy makers should take their feet off the brakes, send a clear signal that the new growth story is here and that it comes with exciting economic and market opportunities. USD 26 trillion and a more sustainable planet are on offer if we act decisively now.”

Gueterres said that momentum for climate action is growing every day, with over 130 of the world’s most influential companies now committed to using only renewable energy, fossil fuel-dependent countries looking to diversify and over 250 investors with USD 28 trillion in managed assets signing on to the Climate Action 100+ initiative.

A five-year plan, the Climate Action involves major green house gas emitters to lead the clean energy transition and help achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Guterres said clean energy systems help developing countries, where over a billion people still do not have access to electricity.

“It can help deliver access to energy to the one billion people who currently lack electricity,” he added.

The UN chief said women, the poorest and the most vulnerable are hit first and worst by storms, floods, droughts, wildfires and rising seas.

He said climate change will be high on the agenda of the 2018 opening session of the General Assembly, as part of efforts to galvanise action ahead of the milestone 2020 meeting of parties to the 2015 Paris Agreement.

In one of the first unprecedented floods in history, fresh onslaught of rain in Kerala since August 8 has led to a death toll of over 400. 80 dams have been opened. A red alert has been issued in all the 14 districts of the state. There have been power cuts and food shortage across the state.

Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi announced a financial assistance of Rs 500 crore to the flood ravaged state of Kerala after chairing a high level meeting with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Union Minister Alphons KJ and other state ministers for checking rehabilitations measures and assessing the damage. He also announced an ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh per person to the next kin of the deceased.

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