United Nations chief Antonio Guterres demanded world leaders act to “save humanity” as they met for the historic COP26 climate summit with code-red warnings from scientists ringing in their ears.
More than 120 heads of state and government have gathered in Glasgow, Scotland, on Monday for a two-day summit at the start of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), which organisers say is crucial for charting humanity’s path away from catastrophic global warming.
COP26 is being billed as vital for the continued viability of the Paris Agreement, which countries signed in 2015 promising to limit global temperature rises to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, and to work for a safer 1.5°C cap.
With a little over 1°C of warming since the Industrial Revolution, Earth is being battered by ever more extreme heatwaves, flooding and tropical storms supercharged by rising seas.
“It’s time to say: enough,” Guterres said.
“Enough of brutalising biodiversity. Enough of killing ourselves with carbon. Enough of treating nature like a toilet. Enough of burning and drilling and mining our way deeper. We are digging our own graves.”
He also urged global leaders to do more to protect vulnerable communities, adding that nearly four billion people suffered from climate-related disasters over the last decade.
“That devastation will only grow,” he added.
Governments are under pressure to redouble their emissions-cutting commitments to bring them in line with the Paris goals, and to stump up long-promised cash to help developing nations green their grids and protect themselves against future disasters.