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UN Secretary-General António Guterres during his trip to Antarctica


UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called on the international community to take decisive action against climate change three days before the start of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai. Humanity is trapped in a "deadly cycle," but the solutions are well known, Guterres said on Monday. He added that world leaders must act to "limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, protect people from climate chaos and end the age of fossil fuels."

Earlier, the UN chief had returned from a trip to Antarctica. The rapidly melting sea ice there is contributing, among other things, to sea level rise, he said. In addition, the ice reflects the sun's rays – when it melts, more heat is absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere, which in turn leads to more storms, floods, fires and droughts worldwide. The consequence would be even more ice melt and thus even more global warming. "Antarctica is crying out for action."

The UN chief continued: "The cause of all this destruction is clear: fossil fuel pollution, which wraps itself around the Earth like a shell and heats up the planet." Without a change of course, the world is on track for a "devastating" temperature rise of three degrees by the end of the century, Guterres said. Heads of state and government must not "let people's hopes for a sustainable planet melt away" and must ensure that "COP28 is a success".

Around 70,000 participants, including heads of state and government as well as Pope Francis, are expected to attend the World Climate Conference, which begins on Thursday, in the United Arab Emirates. More than 190 countries want to take stock of the implementation of the Paris Climate Change Conference in 2015. In Paris, the international community agreed on the 1.5°C target in order to avoid exceeding dangerous tipping points with irreversible consequences and to avert the most catastrophic consequences of climate change. The future use of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal will also play a major role at the conference.