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World Bank launches climate and health initiative

The USD 34 billion health portfolio, active in over 100 countries, will focus on enhancing surveillance and early warning systems, climate-proofing health facilities, and strengthening the capacity of health workers…reports Asian Lite News

In an initiative announced at COP28, the World Bank unveiled its Climate and Health Program to combat the escalating health risks triggered by climate change in low- and middle-income countries.

According to a press release by the World Bank, with projections indicating at least 21 million additional deaths by 2050 due to climate-related health hazards, the program aims to fortify health systems, particularly in vulnerable regions of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

The initiative involves comprehensive strategies, including assessing climate and health vulnerabilities, bolstering investments in resilient health systems, and mobilizing funds for immediate action.

The World Bank emphasizes the urgency of addressing five key health risks–extreme heat, stunting, diarrhoea, malaria, and dengue–that could claim millions of lives within the next three decades.

Mamta Murthi, Vice President for Human Development at the World Bank, highlighted the program’s significance in breaking the cycle of ill health and poverty caused by climate change.

Murthi said, “Climate change amplifies health risks, creating a cycle of ill health and poverty with far-reaching consequences for human capital development. Through the Climate and Health Program, the World Bank will use its knowledge and financing to help countries address health risks stemming from climate change, work across related sectors, and bring together partners to maximize financing and harmonize investments and actions.”

The Climate and Health Program seeks to generate evidence, increase financing for tailored solutions, and forge strong partnerships with entities such as the World Health Organization, Gavi, The Global Fund, and foundations.

Notably, the World Bank will co-convene a Development Bank Working Group for Climate-Health Finance to align and maximize investments.

The USD 34 billion health portfolio, active in over 100 countries, will focus on enhancing surveillance and early warning systems, climate-proofing health facilities, and strengthening the capacity of health workers.

As the climate crisis continues to impact the well-being of global populations, the World Bank’s commitment to addressing this paramount health challenge underscores the need for immediate, collective action.

The success of the Climate and Health Program hinges on today’s decisions, shaping the health outcomes of current and future generations. (ANI)

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Britain gets ready for cold snap

The Met Office issued snow and ice alerts for large areas of Scotland, England and Northern Ireland amid plummeting temperatures…reports Asian Lite News

Friday 1 December heralds the start of meteorological winter and the next few days and nights may turn even colder.

At the start of this cold spell the temperature fell to -7.1C at Benson in Oxfordshire and -7.7C at Shap in Cumbria on 25 November.

More recently, we have seen -7.2C on Wednesday morning at Bridgefoot in Cumbria, and on Thursday morning it dropped to -6.6C at Santon Downham in Suffolk.

A combination of long nights, clear skies and no wind means any heat built up during the day will be radiated out to space and it will get colder.

Friday night looks like being the coldest night ahead with temperatures across the United Kingdom, typically -4C to -6C. In Scotland the minimum temperature could be -8C or lower on Friday night and Saturday night.

UK temperature map showing minimum temperatures on -8C in Scotland, -2C in Northern Ireland and -3 to -5C in England and Wales on Friday night. Daytime temperatures in many places will only be a couple of degrees above freezing and parts of Scotland will remain sub-zero for the next few days.

An added hazard at this time of year is freezing fog. This could form on Friday night, particularly in the midlands and eastern England, and hang around through Saturday.

There have been some very cold spells of weather in November over recent years. The very low temperatures tend to be recorded in Scotland and northern England. In recent years we have seen:

Once cold air is in place it can be very difficult to shift. Pressure needs to fall and the wind to strengthen and change direction and bring in a change of air mass. There are signs that all of these elements will come together next week and bring an end to the cold weather.

From the middle of next week there should be less frost and more wet weather. There is the potential of some snow as we transition from this very cold air to something milder.

More than 30 schools in Cornwall closed for the day or opened late due to the hazardous conditions. The Met Office issued snow and ice alerts for large areas of Scotland, England and Northern Ireland amid plummeting temperatures during the first cold snap of the year for many.

It warned people about slips and fall injuries on icy patches and advised of the chance of disruption to road, bus and rail networks.

The UK Health Security Agency and the Met Office have issued amber cold health alerts in five regions – the east Midlands, West Midlands, north-west, north-east, and Yorkshire and the Humber – until 5 December, meaning “cold weather impacts are likely to be felt across the whole health service for an extended period of time” in those areas.

Meanwhile, Berlin is expected to experience a low of -4.5°C, while Helsinki won’t surpass -8°C. Germany faces weather warnings, anticipating up to 20 centimetres (8 inches) of snow, according to a Bloomberg report. Parts of Scotland and northeast England, along with London, are also set to encounter snow and freezing temperatures.

Icy weather arrives after a delayed start to the heating season, allowing many countries to accumulate record natural gas inventories.

Although these reserves aren’t meant to meet peak winter demand entirely, they help stabilise prices. However, some withdrawals have already commenced.

Post the first week of December, weather forecasts for Europe differ. Maxar predicts a continued cold pattern for most of Europe in the next two weeks, while some models suggest a potential temperature rebound in the northwest from December 6. Global Forecast System data even hint at above-normal temperatures in central and southern Europe.

Eastern European countries, including Romania and Moldova, faced heavy snowfall and blizzards over the weekend, resulting in road closures and electricity outages. Three deaths were reported. Moldova is bracing for temperatures of -9°C, potentially causing more disruptions.

Romania issued red weather warnings in several eastern counties, with wind forecasts reaching up to 100kph. Over 400 localities in Romania experienced electrical outages due to heavy snowfall. Bulgaria declared a state of emergency as winter storms left over 1,000 settlements without electricity.

In Bulgaria, two deaths occurred in traffic accidents, and the prime minister declared a state of emergency.

Ukraine’s Hydrometeorological Center issued yellow and orange weather warnings for a significant portion of the country.’

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India has walked the talk when it comes to climate action, says Modi

The visit of Modi to Dubai comes at the invitation of President of UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan…reports Asian Lite News

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India has always walked the talk when it comes to climate action and added that even during the G20 Presidency, climate was high on priority.

In his departure statement ahead of the COP28 climate talks in Dubai, PM Modi also noted that the G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration also included concrete steps on climate action and sustainable development.

“India has walked the talk when it comes to climate action. Our achievements in different sectors like renewable energy, energy efficiency, afforestation, energy conservation, and Mission LiFE are testament to the commitment of our people towards Mother Earth,” the Prime Minister said, according to an official release by the Prime Minister’s Office.

“In keeping with our civilizational ethos, India has always laid emphasis on climate action even as we pursue social and economic development. During our G20 presidency, climate was a high priority. The New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration includes numerous concrete steps on climate action and sustainable development. I look forward to the COP-28 taking forward the consensus on these issues,” he said.

According to the departure statement, COP28 will also provide an opportunity to review progress made under the Paris Agreement and chart a path for future action on climate action.

The visit of Modi to Dubai comes at the invitation of President of UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

“I am travelling to Dubai to attend the World Climate Action Summit of the COP-28 on December 1, 2023. I am happy to see that this significant event is being held under the Presidency of the UAE, which has been an important partner for India in the field of climate action,” the Prime Minister said in his departure statement.

He also noted that the Global South spoke for the need for climate action based on the principles of equity, climate justice, and common but differentiated responsibilities at the Voice of Global South Summit, which was convened by India.

“It is important that efforts in the developing world be supported with adequate climate financing and technology transfer. They must have access to equitable carbon and development space to achieve sustainable development,” the statement read.

COP28, which stands for the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is taking place in Dubai, UAE, from November 30 – December 12 this year.

Delegates from almost 200 nations will be present at the summit, including world leaders like Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who arrives in Dubai.

PM Modi had earlier attended the Glasgow conference in 2021, during which he unveiled India’s five-pronged ‘Panchamrit’ strategy to deal with climate change. (ANI)

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UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report Urges Urgent Climate Action

Current unconditional NDCs imply that additional emissions cuts of 14 GtCO2e are needed in 2030 over predicted levels for two degrees…reports Asian Lite News

As global temperatures and greenhouse gas emissions break records, the latest Emissions Gap Report from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) finds that current pledges under the Paris Agreement put the world on track for a 2.5-2.9 degrees Celsius temperature rise above pre-industrial levels this century, pointing to the urgent need for increased climate action.

Released ahead of the 2023 climate summit in Dubai, the Emissions Gap Report 2023: Broken Record — Temperatures hit new highs, yet world fails to cut emissions (again), finds that global low-carbon transformations are needed to deliver cuts to predicted 2030 greenhouse gas emissions of 28 per cent for a two-degree pathway and 42 per cent for a 1.5-degree pathway.

“We know it is still possible to make the 1.5 degree limit a reality. It requires tearing out the poisoned root of the climate crisis: fossil fuels. And it demands a just, equitable renewables transition,” said Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General.

Maintaining the possibility of achieving the Paris Agreement temperature goals hinges on significantly strengthening mitigation this decade to narrow the emissions gap. This will facilitate more ambitious targets for 2035 in the next round of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and increase the chances of meeting net-zero pledges, which now cover around 80 per cent of global emissions.

“There is no person or economy left on the planet untouched by climate change, so we need to stop setting unwanted records on greenhouse gas emissions, global temperature highs and extreme weather,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.

“We must instead lift the needle out of the same old groove of insufficient ambition and not enough action, and start setting other records: on cutting emissions, on green and just transitions and on climate finance.”

Until the beginning of October this year, 86 days were recorded with temperatures over 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

September was the hottest recorded month ever, with global average temperatures 1.8 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

The report finds that global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions increased by 1.2 per cent from 2021 to 2022 to reach a new record of 57.4 gigatonne of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (GtCO2e).

GHG emissions across the G20 increased by 1.2 per cent in 2022. Emission trends reflect global patterns of inequality. Because of these worrying trends and insufficient mitigation efforts, the world is on track for a temperature rise far beyond the agreed climate goals during this century.

If mitigation efforts implied by current policies are continued at today’s levels, global warming will only be limited to three degrees above pre-industrial levels in this century.

Fully implementing efforts implied by unconditional Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) would put the world on track for limiting temperature rise to 2.9 degrees.

Conditional NDCs fully implemented would lead to temperatures not exceeding 2.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

All of these are with a 66 per cent chance. These temperature projections are slightly higher than in the 2022 Emissions Gap Report, as the 2023 report includes a larger number of models in the estimation of global warming.

Current unconditional NDCs imply that additional emissions cuts of 14 GtCO2e are needed in 2030 over predicted levels for two degrees.

Cuts of 22 GtCO2e are needed for 1.5 degrees.

The implementation of conditional NDCs reduces both these estimates by 3 GtCO2e.

In percentage terms, the world needs to cut 2030 emissions by 28 per cent to get on track to achieve the two degrees goal of the Paris Agreement, with a 66 per cent chance, and 42 per cent for the 1.5 degrees goal.

If all conditional NDCs and long-term net-zero pledges were met, limiting the temperature rise to two degrees would be possible.

However, net-zero pledges are not currently considered credible: none of the G20 countries are reducing emissions at a pace consistent with their net-zero targets.

Even in the most optimistic scenario, the likelihood of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees is only 14 per cent.

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Nine Indian Leaders Named in Time 100 Climate List

Geeta Aiyer is founder and president of Boston Common Asset Management, a woman-led, employee-owned sustainable investment firm with nearly $5 billion in assets under management…reports Asian Lite News

Nine prominent leaders hailing from India have been named to the ‘Time 100 Climate’, the magazine’s first-ever list of the world’s most influential leaders driving business to real climate action.

The list, which includes CEOs, founders, philanthropists, musicians, policymakers and government officials from across the world, comes ahead of the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference, scheduled to take place in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from November 30.

“It’s fair to say climate leadership is ­embedded across all of our coverage today. But we believe more could be done to draw attention to the people who are shaping and leading climate action,” Time said, releasing the list on Thursday.

According to Time, Ajay Banga, who began his five-year term as World Bank Group president in June, is ushering in a new mission for the institution — eradicating poverty while fighting climate change.

Banga is calling for more money to “widen the aperture” of the Bank to structure incentives and loans for projects that lower emissions and advance sustainable development.

He is also pushing to reduce how long it takes to approve projects, so that billions of dollars can quickly reach the countries that need it.

Some 70 per cent of the vehicles on India’s roads are mopeds and scooters, and Bhavish Aggarwal is leading the path to electrifying them.

He is the CEO and co-founder of Ola Electric, India’s largest maker of electric two-wheel scooters, and a market leader in micromobility generally, from taxis to ride-sharing.

This year, Ola launched its most affordable electric scooter ever, priced at Rs 79,999.

Rajiv J. Shah is president of The Rockefeller Foundation, which now works to ensure that all initiatives and investment strategies are focused through a climate lens.

This year, the Foundation partnered with the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet to launch the Coal to Clean Credit Initiative. The aim is to develop a new carbon finance standard to spur a just transition away from coal-fired power plants to renewable energy in emerging economies.

Geeta Aiyer is founder and president of Boston Common Asset Management, a woman-led, employee-owned sustainable investment firm with nearly $5 billion in assets under management.

The firm prioritises investment in climate change mitigation, and uses shareholder engagement to push portfolio companies toward more sustainable business practices.

Jigar Shah is director of the US Department of Energy Loan Programs Office, which is responsible for the public investment of hundreds of billions of dollars into clean infrastructure and energy projects.

“The solutions to meeting the President’s decarbonisation goals are already within our grasp. It’s a matter of doing rather than waiting for a breakthrough,” Shah told the Time.

Manoj Sinha is CEO and co-founder of Husk Power Systems, which operates 200 minigrids across Asia and Africa, and reached profitability in India and Nigeria this year.

According to Sinha, the most important climate legislation that could pass in the next year is the imposition of a uniform carbon tax.

M. Sanjayan is a conservation scientist and CEO of Conservation International (CI), a non-profit working with governments and companies to conserve nature, primarily in the Global South.

Sanjayan’s skills as a science communicator have helped CI facilitate powerful partnerships for environmental protection.

The organisation created the Restore Fund in 2021 alongside Apple, which this year pledged $200 million in additional funding to support nature-based carbon removal technologies.

Seema Wadhwa is executive director for environmental stewardship for Kaiser Permanente, one of the largest health care providers in the US.

By 2050, it aims to be net zero.

Under Wadhwa’s leadership, this year Kaiser Permanente’s office in Santa Rosa, California, was recognised as the country’s first net-zero medical facility.

Amit Kumar Sinha is managing director and CEO of Mahindra Lifespaces, the real estate and infrastructure development arm of Indian conglomerate company Mahindra Group.

Since 2013, Mahindra Lifespaces says it has had an entirely green portfolio, prioritizing water efficiency, passive energy design, renewables, and more.

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Climate activists target ‘Rokeby Venus’ painting

Police said the two were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage. The National Gallery said the painting has been removed from display so conservators can examine it…reports Asian Lite News

Two climate change protesters were arrested Monday after they smashed a protective glass panel covering a famous Diego Velázquez oil painting at London’s National Gallery, police said Monday.

The two activists from the group Just Stop Oil targeted Velázquez’s “The Toilet of Venus,” also known as “The Rokeby Venus,” with small hammers. Photos showed the protective glass panel punctured with several holes.

Just Stop Oil, which has previously led similar protests targeting famous artworks and public buildings, said Monday’s action was to demand Britain’s government immediately halt all licensing for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the U.K.

The group said Monday that the two activists chose to target Velázquez’s 17th-century oil painting, one of the Spanish artist’s most celebrated masterpieces, because it was previously slashed as part of the suffragette movement calling for women’s rights in 1914.

Just Stop Oil said the protesters hammered the glass panel, then told people at the gallery: “Women did not get the vote by voting. It is time for deeds, not words.”

“Politics is failing us. It failed women in 1914 and it is failing us now,” they added.

Police said the two were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage. The National Gallery said the painting has been removed from display so conservators can examine it.

“The pair appeared to strike ‘The Toilet of Venus’ (‘The Rokeby Venus’) by Velázquez with what appeared to be emergency rescue hammers. The room was cleared of visitors and police were called,” the museum said in a statement.

The room was reopened shortly afterward with another painting replacing the Velázquez where it was hung, the museum added.

“The Toilet of Venus” depicts a naked Venus, the goddess of love, reclining on a bed with her back facing the viewer, as her son Cupid holds a mirror up to her face.

The painting was targeted in 1914 by the suffragette Mary Richardson to protest the imprisonment of fellow women’s rights activist Emmeline Pankhurst. The painting suffered several slashes at the time but was subsequently repaired.

Police said officers also arrested dozens of other Just Stop Oil protesters on Monday who were “slow marching” and obstructing traffic in central London’s Whitehall as part of their civil disobedience strategy.

Last year two activists threw two cans of tomato soup over Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers,” also at the National Gallery, to protest fossil fuel extraction. They did not damage the painting, which was covered with glass.

Part of a wave of youthful direct-action protest groups around the world, Just Stop Oil is backed by the U.S.-based Climate Emergency Fund, set up to support disruptive environmental protests.

Just Stop Oil activists have repeatedly staged multiple high-profile protests at the busiest highways and roads as well as sports tournaments.

In July, British authorities expanded police power allowing them to target activists who stop traffic and to move static protests.

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Developed Nations Pressed to Fulfill Climate Pledge

The environment minister urged parties to agree on a clear definition of climate finance that enhances the accountability and transparency of climate and non-climate financial flows…reports Asian Lite News

Bangladesh Environment Minister Shahab Uddin has emphasised the urgent need for predictable and sufficient grant-based public financing for climate adaptation in vulnerable developing countries.

He also stressed the importance of developed nations fulfilling their commitment to mobilise 100 billion US dollars annually through 2025, while addressing the past three years’ shortfall (2020-2022), during a ministerial preparation meeting held in Abu Dhabi, UAE, as part of the process leading up to the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP28), Dhaka Tribune reported.

Uddin stressed the need for clear mechanisms to timely report and account for the delivery of climate financing commitments, saying failure to do so could erode trust and hinder progress, Xinhua news agency reported.

He called for the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) on Climate Finance to be significantly higher than the previous 100 billion dollars per year target, focusing on grants rather than loans and reflecting the actual needs of developing nations to adapt to climate change’s inevitable impacts.

The environment minister urged parties to agree on a clear definition of climate finance that enhances the accountability and transparency of climate and non-climate financial flows.

He said the outcome of COP28 should emphasise the responsibility of developed countries to lead in providing and mobilizing climate finance for developing nations.

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‘Sharp rise in companies’ climate-related risk disclosure’

The percentage of companies reporting on their climate-related targets increased by 24 percentage points between 2020 and 2022, according to the report…reports Asian Lite News

A new report from a G20 advisory body highlights significant growth in companies’ disclosure of climate-related risks and opportunities between 2020 and 2022.

The report, based on Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations, reveals a 26 per cent increase in companies disclosing their climate-related risks and opportunities, while oversight by company boards in this regard rose by 25 per cent.

The Task Force assessed the current state and evolution of climate-related financial disclosures using artificial intelligence technology. It reviewed reports of more than 1,350 public companies over a three-year period fiscal years 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Climate-related metrics disclosure led the way with over 70 per cent of companies disclosing the metrics they use. Reporting on greenhouse gas emissions and climate-related targets also showed considerable progress (both at 66 per cent), with a 24 per cent increase in companies reporting on their climate-related targets.

The percentage of companies reporting on their climate-related targets increased by 24 percentage points between 2020 and 2022, according to the report.

The TCFD provides information to investors about what companies are doing to mitigate the risks of climate change, as well as being transparent about the way in which they are governed.

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Australia Braces for Severe Weather Season

The BOM estimated an 80 per cent chance of fewer than average tropical cyclones this season…reports Asian Lite News

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) on Monday said the country is expected to face a peak season of severe weather, including heatwaves and tropical cyclones.

In its latest 2023-24 Severe Weather Long-Range Forcast, the BOM stressed that while severe weather can occur at any time of the year, the October to April period is the peak time for heatwaves, bushfires, tropical cyclones, thunderstorms and floods, reports Xinhua news agency.

In the months ahead, Australia is likely to confront a high chance of “unusually high” temperatures until at least February 2024, also with an increased risk of bushfires in much of eastern and southern Australia.

“There is always a risk of dangerous and destructive fires in Australia at this time of year. Grass growth due to above-average rainfall in the past two to three years is contributing to an increased fire risk,” said the bureau’s Senior Meteorologist Sarah Scully.

On September 19, the weather bureau declared an El Nino event ongoing in the Pacific Ocean, which can typically shift rainfall away from Australia. Meanwhile, a positive Indian Ocean Dipole event is also underway, bringing warmer- and drier-than-average conditions in early spring and summer.

The BOM estimated an 80 per cent chance of fewer than average tropical cyclones this season.

“On average, the first tropical cyclone crosses the Australian coast in late December. This can be later in El Nino years, possibly early to mid-January,” said Scully.

Besides, the meteorologist noted that severe thunderstorms are more common during the warmer months, particularly in northern New South Wales, southern Queensland, inland Western Australia and across the tropical north.

“Thunderstorm asthma can be triggered by thunderstorms after high grass growth in southern Australia from October to December when pollen levels are highest,” she added.

Despite the long-range forecast for warmer and drier conditions, the BOM warned that there is still a risk of riverine and flash flooding where storms bring heavy rainfall.

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Humanity has opened gates of hell on climate, says Guterres

Wednesday’s summit was unusual due to Guterres’ decision to restrict the speaker list to countries he deemed to have clear and effective climate plans, and those prepared to send a high-level leader to speak….reports Asian Lite News

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has said “Humanity has opened the gates to hell.” He made the remarks at a high-level summit on the climate crisis, CNN reported.

“Horrendous heat is having horrendous effects. Distraught farmers watching crops carried away by floods. Sweltering temperatures spawning disease,” he said in a speech to open the Climate Ambition Summit, happening alongside the UN General Assembly in New York.

“Climate action is dwarfed by the scale of the challenge,” he added, warning that if nothing changes we are heading “towards a dangerous and unstable world.”

The one-day conference – which comes as the world grapples with devastating floods and fires – is intended to build global momentum toward slashing planet-heating pollution ahead of the UN’s COP28 climate summit in Dubai in December.

Wednesday’s summit was unusual due to Guterres’ decision to restrict the speaker list to countries he deemed to have clear and effective climate plans, and those prepared to send a high-level leader to speak.

As per CNN, of the nearly 200 countries present in New York for the General Assembly, only 34 nations and seven non-governmental bodies secured speaking slots at the UN chief’s summit.

The aim of the summit is to increase ambitions on climate action, Guterres said.

Selwin Hart, a special adviser to the UN Secretary-General on climate action and just transition said there has been “massive backsliding” on commitments, as per CNN.

“The countries that committed to net-zero by 2050, and to the 1.5-degree goal of the Paris Agreement, they’re expanding fossil fuel licensing at a time when science tells us this is totally incompatible with this 1.5-degree goal,” he told CNN in an interview on Tuesday.

Guterres in his speech, called on developed countries to reach net-zero emissions – removing from the atmosphere at least as much planet-warming pollution as they produce – by 2040, at least ten years earlier than most current commitments.

He also asked countries to commit to timelines to phase out fossil fuel emissions, as well as to significantly increase finance to help low- and middle-income countries quickly move to clean energy and invest in climate resilience measures to better cope with increasingly severe extreme weather events.

“We are decades behind. We must make up time lost to foot-dragging, arm-twisting and the naked greed of entrenched interests raking in billions from fossil fuels,” Guterres said as per CNN. (ANI)

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