Agents of Impact | April 8, 2022

António Guterres, United Nations: Calling ‘BS’ on climate double-speak

Amy Cortese
ImpactAlpha Editor

Amy Cortese

ImpactAlpha, April 8 – The U.N. chief and former Portuguese prime minister has a simple critique of government and business leaders saying one thing on climate, but doing another: “They are lying.”

The Glasgow climate summit is barely four months behind us and already world leaders are backsliding on climate promises. Tightened energy supplies stemming from the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have politicians from Europe to Washington calling for more oil and gas production, even as they fall short of climate goals.

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report paints fossil fuels more favorably than scientists intended, thanks to pressure from member-nation Saudi Arabia. Guterres is not buying it.

“Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness,” he said in an address after the release of the U.N.-backed IPCC report this week. Coal? “A stupid investment.” Those financing it “should be held to account.”

Guterres’ frank and colorful speech (he is fluent in four languages) has brought mainstream attention to the wonky climate assessments issued every six years.

The IPCC’s February report detailing the effects of climate change was “an atlas of human suffering,” and a “code red for humanity,” according to Guterres. This week’s tome outlining mitigation action? “A litany of broken climate promises,” and a “file of shame.”

The world needs to halve emissions by the end of the century to have a chance of limiting warming to 1.5˚Celsius. Instead, emissions are on track to rise. “We are sleepwalking to climate catastrophe,” Guterres warns.

We should heed his words. By the time the next IPCC report lands in 2028, it may be too late.