Secretary-General Warns Climate Crisis Heading into ‘Uncharted Territories of Destruction, Urges Leaders to Heed United in Science Alarming Report

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message for the launch of the United in Science 2022 Report, today:

Our climate is heating rapidly.  Floods, droughts, heatwaves, extreme storms and wildfires are going from bad to worse, breaking records with ever alarming frequency.  Heatwaves in Europe.  Colossal floods in Pakistan.  Prolonged and severe droughts in China, the Horn of Africa and the United States.

There is nothing natural about the new scale of these disasters.  They are the price of humanity’s fossil fuel addiction.  The number of weather, climate and water-related disasters has increased by a factor of five over the past 50 years.

Daily losses total more than $200 million dollars.  This year’s United in Science report shows climate impacts heading into uncharted territories of destruction.  Yet each year we double-down on this fossil fuel addiction, even as the symptoms get rapidly worse.  Even as we know the cure.

Our leaders pledged in the Paris Agreement [on climate change] to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C and build climate resilience.  This year’s United in Science report shows that we are still way off track.  Climate action is stalling on key fronts, and the poorest countries and people are being hardest hit.  But no country is immune.  The report is a shameful reminder that resilience-building is the neglected half of the climate equation.

It is a scandal that developed countries have failed to take adaptation seriously and shrugged off their commitments to help the developing world.  The Glasgow decision urges developed countries to collectively provide $40 billion dollars a year in new adaptation finance.  This must be delivered in full, as a starting point.

But it is clearly not enough.  Adaptation finance needs are set to grow to at least $300 billion dollars a year by 2030.  I have just returned from Pakistan, where I saw first-hand the massive scale of need there.  At the very least, 50 per cent of all climate finance must go to adaptation. 

This is a moral imperative, but it is also a matter of common sense.  Adaptation investments pay huge human dividends, for donors and vulnerable countries, people and communities alike. 

And yet most multilateral development banks are not doing enough.  G20 [Group of 20] countries are their shareholders.  The buck stops with them to force the changes needed.  It is also clear that early warnings save lives.

That’s why I have announced that the United Nations will work to make them available to every person on Earth within five years.  The World Meteorological Organization will take the lead.  Many developing countries still lack these essential services.

For information media. Not an official record.