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ASEAN urged: Confront climate

I count on your leadership to undertake the concrete actions necessary to confront the world’s climate emergency.

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United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres speaks to the press after addressing the ASEAN Summit in Bangkok, Thailand. UN photo

Four of the 10 countries most affected by climate change are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres said, urging the ASEAN-UN Summit in Bangkok to “confront the world’s climate emergency.”

“This region is highly vulnerable, particularly to rising sea-levels, with catastrophic consequences for low-lying communities, as recently published research illustrated,” he said, pointing out that 70 percent of the global population most at risk of rising sea levels are within ASEAN and other countries that will be represented at summits later this week.

The UN chief has been a strong advocate for progress on carbon pricing, ensuring no new coal plants by 2020, and ending the allocation of trillions of taxpayer dollars for the fossil fuel subsidies that boost hurricanes, spread tropical diseases and heighten conflict.

“I am particularly worried about the future impact of the high number of new coal power plants still projected in some parts of the world, including several countries in East, South and Southeast Asia,” said Guterres.

At the same time, the UN chief maintained that developed countries “must fulfil their commitment” to provide $100 billion a year by 2020 for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries.
“I count on your leadership to undertake the concrete actions necessary to confront the world’s climate emergency,” Guterres said.

Noting a global phenomenon of rising trade and technology tensions, and unease and uncertainty amid revised downward growth forecasts, Guterres spelled out: “No region is immune.”

And he drew attention to rising US-China tensions as “another concern emerging on the horizon,” fearing what he termed “a Great Fracture” where the two world’s largest economies split the globe in half — each with its own “dominant currency, trade and financial rules… Internet and artificial intelligence capacities, and its own zero sum geopolitical and military strategies.”

“We must do everything possible to avert this Great Fracture,” the UN chief stressed, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a world with strong multilateral institutions and a universal economy with respect for international law.

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