UN:  Drastic Turn Against Climate Change Urgently Needed

By David Brooks, on September 23, 2019

Greta Thunberg at Global Climate Strike in NYC

“How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”

Greta Thunberg, 16 at the UN

The representatives of the 193 member states of the United Nations Organization (UN) arrive this week in New York to participate, among other things, in another summit on climate change, but this time the young activists outraged by the threat of theft of their future by the inaction of these same representatives will offer light to the dark and sometimes apocalyptic forecasts for this planet.

This Monday will be held the Summit on Climate Action, for which the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, asked world leaders not only to arrive with speeches, but with bold plans and commitments for concrete action to curb global warming under the scheme of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change 2015.

Last Saturday, at the first Youth Climate Summit convened by Guterres, some 700 participants from around the world gathered as a preface to today’s summit, in which several activists will once again make it clear that they demand action, not declarations. Guterres said that “there is a change of momentum… largely due to their initiative” and concluded: I have granddaughters, I want them to live on a habitable planet. My generation has an enormous responsibility. It is your generation that must hold us accountable and ensure that we do not betray the future of humanity.

It was the young people, including Sweden’s Greta Thunberg, who called for the Global Climate Strike between the 20th and 27th of this month, whose first act was the mobilization of more than 4 million people in 150 countries, including some 250,000 in New York on Saturday. (There was scant coverage of these massive demonstrations in the corporate media when compared to their fixated coverage of UFO enthusiasts converging on Site 51 in a Nevada desert taking place at the same time – editorial)

Some of these young people, including Thunberg, will rise to the podium to deliver their concrete message to world leaders at the summit this Monday, before the opening of the high-level debate at the General Assembly tomorrow.

Perhaps that is why Donald Trump – whose first act in the presidency was to announce the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Accord – and his Brazilian ally, Jair Bolsonaro, have reported that they will not participate in the Climate Action Summit, instead, Trump will attend a meeting he will preside over on religious freedom.

One motto of the new youth movement is: unite around science. The scientific consensus is that the world has only about 10 more years to take the necessary action to avoid irreversible consequences of global warming.

The consequences are already in sight: the world is experiencing the warmest five-year period ever recorded; increasingly devastating hurricanes like the one that left some 10,000 homeless in the Bahamas; melting polar ice, rising sea levels and acidification, mortality of the world’s coral reefs, floods on the one hand and severe droughts on the other; human exoduses from areas affected by climate change (something you can see on Mexico’s southern and northern borders); the beginning of what is called the sixth great extinction of species in the history of the planet and the list goes on and on. Young activists, scientists and experts declare that climate change is the defining theme of our times.

Faced with this, the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, in which world leaders, including the then US president, Barack Obama, who, unlike his successor, believed in science, recognized that it is necessary to reduce carbon emissions within 12 years and limit the increase in global temperature to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

For the action summit, Guterres requested that the leaders arrive with their national plans so that, collectively, greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 45 percent over the next decade, and reach zero by 2050. He stressed that these plans must show a path towards the complete transformation of economies following the objectives of sustainable development.

Guterres appointed the Mexican diplomat Luis Alfonso de Alba as special envoy for this Summit on Climate Action.

Faced with the inexorable torrent of bad news, sometimes apocalyptic, about the climate crisis, scientists, experts and those who listen to them, like Thunberg, argue that solutions are within reach and include some very obvious natural antidotes like trees, but what is most lacking is political will. They insist that the world situation still has a remedy, but it requires citizen actions and massive social mobilizations to force the leaders to implement the necessary measures.

Some might seem radical. For example, environmentalists like Bill McKibben argue that 80 percent of fossil fuel reserves should be kept untapped and burned to avoid the disasters that are already announced, and point out that this is not only necessary, but possible and even economically more beneficial for all than maintaining the current model.

Others indicate that this planetary crisis is not caused by extraterrestrial forces nor is it the result of an abstract phenomenon, but that it is known exactly where it comes from. A 2017 study documented that only 100 companies generate 70 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases.

Thunberg repeats that those responsible for the crisis opted for their profits on the planet and thereby sold our future.

This week we will see whether the adults who call themselves world leaders will be held accountable and take the necessary actions to rescue that future for young people.

Source: La Jornada, translation, Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau