Choose hope or climate surrender, says UN chief

U.N. chief holds news conference on eve of climate talks in Madrid

39;War against nature must stop,' U.N. chief says before climate talksU.N. chief holds news conference on eve of climate talks in Madrid

"Do we really want to be remembered as the generation that buried its head in the sand, that fiddled while the planet burned?", asked the United Nations chief.

The last five years have been the hottest ever recorded, the WMO said, and the concentration of planet warming Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached levels not seen in three to five million years.

Chile's environment minister, Carolina Schmidt, said that the December 2-13 meeting in Madrid needs to lay the groundwork for moving toward carbon neutral economies while being sensitive to the poorest and those most vulnerable to rising temperatures - something that policymakers have termed "just transition".

The summit, which moved from Chile following anti-government protests, aims to establish an global strategy to cut greenhouse gases and address the climate crisis. The fund is aimed at helping resource-deprived countries launch adaptation and mitigation efforts to combat the impacts of climate change, which include rising sea levels, floods, and related climate events.

"We have a common challenge but with differentiated needs and urgencies, which we can only overcome if we work together", said Schmidt as her country took over the chairing of the meeting from Poland.

"According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we must limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, reach carbon neutrality by 2050, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030", Guterres noted. Already, average temperatures have increased by about 1C, leaving little room for the more ambitious target to be met.

It's where representatives from more than 200 countries meet to talk about how the world's governments should tackle climate change. "Antarctica is melting three times as fast as a decade ago".

Science says the collective ambition of countries needs to increase by more than fivefold over current levels to deliver the cuts needed over the next decade. "Today, we need to reduce emissions by 7.6 per cent each year".

Before the official opening, Spain's acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will meet the heads of state and government of the European Union countries and the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres. However, that won't be technically completed until November 4, 2020.

There's another delegation from the US, too: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is there with a group of a fifteen Democratic members of Congress.

"We're still in it", Pelosi said. And maybe four: "science, again".

"Failure to heed these warnings and take drastic action to reverse emissions means we will continue to witness deadly and catastrophic heatwaves, storms and pollution", said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. But sticking points remain, not least over an article on how to put a price on emissions, and so allow them to be traded.

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