'Waging war on nature': UN chief delivers dire warning about climate change

A grim future awaits if emissions aren't curbed, he said.

December 02, 2020, 1:02 PM

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has given another dire warning on the dangers of climate change ahead of another international climate change summit.

Guterres described the state of the planet as "broken" while speaking at Columbia University on Wednesday, adding that "apocalyptic" weather events, such as fires and floods, have become "the new normal."

"Humanity is waging war on nature," Guterres said. "This is suicidal."

PHOTO: This is an aerial view of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on Nov. 18, 2020, which was flooded by the overflowing of the Chamelecon river after the passage of Hurricane Iota.
This is an aerial view of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on Nov. 18, 2020, which was flooded by the overflowing of the Chamelecon river after the passage of Hurricane Iota.
Orlando Sierra/AFP via Getty Images

The global temperature in 2020 is on track to end about 1.2 degrees Celsius warmer than the end of 1800s, dangerously close to the 2-degree Celsius cap scientists have warned against hitting before conditions in much of the world become unlivable, according to a report by the World Meteorological Organization.

On Dec. 12, the U.N. is hosting a virtual climate summit in France on the fifth anniversary of the Paris agreement. Pledges have been made by more than 100 countries to avoid adding more heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere than trees and technology can remove, a promise about which Guterres expressed optimism.

PHOTO: In this Sept. 27, 2020 file photo, the Glass fire burns in Napa County's St. Helena, Calif.
In this Sept. 27, 2020 file photo, the Glass fire burns in Napa County's St. Helena, Calif.
Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

Both Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President-elect Joe Biden have pledged to strive for net-zero emissions.

On Monday, Biden and Guterres spoke about the need for a strengthened partnership between the U.S. and U.N. on urgent issues, including confronting the threat of climate change and advancing sustainable development.

PHOTO: In this screen grab taken from a video, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during the Online Platform Ministerial Meeting, Sept. 3, 2020.
In this screen grab taken from a video, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during the Online Platform Ministerial Meeting, Sept. 3, 2020.
Ministry of Environment Government of Japan via AP, FILE

Guterres said Wednesday that the world can not curb emissions "without U.S. leadership."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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