UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres cited the devastating floods in Kerala and the wildfires in California as he expressed concern that climate change is “running faster than we are and called for urgency and action to prevent ever greater climate-related crises.
The UN chief said last year, climate-related disasters were responsible for thousands of deaths and USD 320 billion dollars in losses.
“Climate change is running faster than we are. The impacts are devastating, and
it is usually the poorest and the most vulnerable who are hit first and worst by storms, floods, droughts, wildfires and rising seas,” Guterres said at the launch of the 2018 New Climate Economy report here on Wednesday.
“This year, we have seen the terrible flooding in Kerala in India, savage wildfires in California and Canada, and dramatic warming in the Arctic that is affecting weather patterns across the northern hemisphere. The trend is clear. The last 19 years included 18 of the warmest years on record, and greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere continue to rise,” he said.
The southern Indian state witnessed the worst flooding in 100 years. About 80 dams had overflowed and more than 370 lives lost. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said that a total of 1.2 million people affected by floods had been housed in 3,314 relief camps in the state.
Guterres warned that runaway climate change is a real possibility, with severe implications for communities, economies, peace and the security of nations. “Climate change has been proven to amplify and exacerbate other risks. Put simply, we need climate action to prevent ever greater crises. We must act with greater ambition and urgency,” he said.