LEADERS TO UN: IF COVID DOESN’T KILL US, CLIMATE CHANGE WILL
In a year of cataclysm, some world leaders at this week’s annual United Nations meeting are taking the long view, warning: If COVID-19 doesn’t kill us, climate change will.
“We are already seeing a version of environmental Armageddon,” Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said, citing wildfires in the western US and noting that the Greenland ice chunk was larger than a number of island nations, Cara Anna reported for the Associated Press (AP).
The prime minister of Tuvalu, Kausea Natano, delivered his UN speech with a vista of turquoise waters and swaying fronds behind him that instantly fired the imaginations of house-bound viewers. While Tuvalu is free of the coronavirus, the pandemic struck as the island nation was recovering from a pair of tropical cyclones — storms that scientists say are likely to become wetter as the planet warms. “While COVID-19 is our immediate crisis, climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and well-being of the Pacific and its peoples in the long run,” the prime minister said.
“In another 75 years, many ... members may no longer hold seats at the United Nations if the world continues on its present course,” the Alliance of Small Island States and the Least Developed Countries Group said. The main goal of the 2015 Paris climate accord is to limit the rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, but scientists say the world is on track to soar past that. A new study found that if the world warms another 0.9 degrees Celsius (1.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the West Antarctic ice sheet will reach a point of irreversible melting. It has enough water to raise global sea levels by 5 meters (16 feet).
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