New York – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says climate change is the most important issue facing the world today and governments need to do more to slow the rise in temperatures that is already affecting people around the world.
As head of the UN since 2017, Guterres has worked to resolve some of the world’s most deadly conflicts.
Speaking ahead of the UN Climate Summit in New York, he told Al Jazeera’s Planet SOS that the climate crisis has only accelerated and exacerbated conflicts – saying that leaders need to take tough decisions in order to tackle the problem.
Planet SOS: Voices from the front lines of the climate crisis
“We are losing the race,” Guterres said. “Climate change is running faster than we are. This is getting worse by the day.”
Pressed on US President Donald Trump – who dismissed climate change to champion fossil fuels, which contribute to rising temperatures – Gutteres stressed that the science was clear and left no doubt about the threat to people around the world, in the US and elsewhere.
In 2015, the international community set out targets for countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit the rise in long-term global temperatures by 1.5-2 degrees Celsius (34.7-35.6 Fahrenheit).
However, a damning new report released by the UN has found that even if all countries that had signed the Paris Agreement met their goals, the world would still warm by 2.9-3.4C (37.2-38.12F).
The report also said current levels of ambition must be tripled to meet the goal of limiting temperature increases to 2C and increased five-fold to meet the 1.5C goal – technically still possible.