Earth at ‘tipping point,’ UN General Assembly President warns, urging climate reform

General Assembly President Sam Kutesa. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

General Assembly President Sam Kutesa. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Peru, 8 December 2014 – Planet earth is “moving towards the tipping point” warned the President of the United Nations General Assembly at UN climate talks in Peru, where he called for world leaders to take urgent action towards a climate agreement that promotes socio-economic development in a sustainable manner.

Briefing reporters in Lima ahead of his address to the high-level segment of the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Sam Kutesa said that climate change threatens the very existence of humankind.

“Our planet earth is warming. Greenhouse gases concentrations are on the increase. Snow is diminishing. Ice is also diminishing. Sea-levels are rising. Droughts are becoming longer and frequent. Floods and landslides are increasing,” Mr. Kutesa said.

“There is little doubt that human activity is primarily responsible for this. Inevitably, this calls for our collective urgent actions towards mitigation and adaptation,” he added.

COP 20, which opened on 1 December, brings together the 196 Parties to the UNFCCC, which is the parent treaty of the landmark 1997 Kyoto Protocol, in an attempt to hammer out the new universal treaty, which would enter force by 2020. The Conference wraps up this Friday.

Calling the Lima Conference “a decisive step” toward achieving a universal, binding agreement in Paris in December 2015, Mr. Kutesa underscored the need to transform the current economic and social models into low carbon and ultimately climate neutral economies.

“I hope the outcome will be ambitious and that commitments will be bold,” he said.

On a related note, Mr. Kutesa said the General Assembly will soon start negotiations on the UN post-2015 development agenda.

“Our efforts towards addressing the three dimensions of sustainable development – social, economic and environmental- clearly relate to what has brought us to Lima,” Mr. Kutesa added.

Mr. Kutesa also commended the Government of Peru for convening the conference and renewing global commitment to address climate change, which remains a top priority of this 69th Session of the General Assembly.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is also expected to address the Conference tomorrow.