The United Nations is embarking this week on a new stepped-up effort to keep climate change in check, with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres traveling to New Zealand and several south Pacific islands.
It has been three years since the Paris agreement went into force, with the various nations presenting their planned programs of activities to help reduce the worldwide emission of carbon dioxide and other industrial emissions which have been identified as the main cause of rising world temperatures.
“We are still losing the battle,” Guterres said last week. “Climate change is still running faster than we are, and if we don’t reverse this trend, it will be a tragedy for the whole world.” On this trip to the Pacific, the UN chief will be going to Fiji, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu, which have recently been hit by cyclones and floods.
Pacific island countries, are said to be the most vulnerable to climate change, because of the expected rise in sea levels as the world temperature rises and the polar glaciers melt. Typhoons starting from the Pacific have also become more powerful, causing more deaths and greater destruction in the island nations.
At the center of this increasingly dangerous area in the Pacific is the Philippines. From the hot central Pacific, typhoons rise and gather strength, then sweep westward toward the Asian mainland. The Philippines is right in the middle of the paths of most of these typhoons.
The new UN effort to mobilize greater efforts to moderate climate change is in preparation for the next climate action summit at the United Nations this September. This could be the world’s last chance to prevent irreversible climate change, Secretary General Guterres said.
The overall world temperature has continued to rise despite the UN Convention on Climate Change in Paris in 2016. The United States led by President Donald Trump rejects the very idea of climate change and remains the No. 1 producer of industrial emissions. China is the world’s next biggest polluter, but it has promised to take steps to reduce its industrial emissions.
At the Paris conference, the Philippines presented a program of increased development of renewable energy and less dependence on highly polluting plants like coal-fueled electric power producers. We are now producing more power from wind farms and solar farms, but we continue to depend heavily on coal plants to produce the power we need.
This also seems to be the general situation in many other countries today, so that UN Secretary General Guterres is moving to win greater support from the Pacific island nations for the coming UN summit in September.
Our hopes go with the UN secretary general as he carries on his mission in the South Pacific this week. As a nation that is among the most vulnerable to climate change in the world today, we should extend all possible support to this UN effort that will culminate with the summit in September.