In this clear and eloquent speech, the United Nations Secretary General warns of the dangers of climate change, highlighting science and technology as the keys for overcoming this global problem our planet has to face. A problem produced mainly by the most advanced and industrialized countries, which are the ones that can do the most to reverse the process.Perhaps the fact that António Guterres studied Physics and Engineering in Lisbon – and worked in education and telecommunications systems before entering politics – has something to do with the way he sees how countries have to deal with the problem of climate change. A problem that –as he says– scientists predicted decades ago. Now that those predictions have been proven correct –in some cases in their worst-case scenarios– action must be taken more than ever.
Science and Technology to the Rescue
If we were to take a look at the present from our past, we would be amazed at the current state of science and technology: advances in the field of renewable energies have already reached an optimum maturity point, guaranteeing a high level of efficiency and reliability at highly competitive costs compared with conventional energies. Therefore, it doesn’t seem to be a problem of “technological bottlenecks” or an “intrinsic unsolvable problem,” but rather a matter of political decisions in this regard.Climate change is a vicious circle in itself: CO2 emissions increase temperatures, causing the polar ice caps and permafrost to melt, and resulting in more fires and hurricanes followed by an increase in CO2 emissions…and starts all over again. Years ago, countries should have drastically reduced –if not stopped– the use of fossil fuels to reach the Paris Accord emissions targets, but unfortunately this didn’t happen.
We know that polluting emissions must be reduced and we know how this can be done. In his speech, Guterres calls not only for compliance with the targets of the current Paris Agreement of 2015 and the Katowice Rulebook of 2018, but also for real decision-making in parliaments around the world and in corporate boardrooms: to work as a team. Making use of scientific data and clean technologies must be a priority. Guterres says that the waiting is over. It’s mandatory to take imminent measures to favor decision-making regarding actions on the most serious problems, especially in those sectors that affect global warming the most. Only then will it be possible to reduce polluting emissions in the coming years in order to reach the point of “zero emissions” by the middle of the 21st century. It’s an extremely difficult challenge that could be overcome, which Guterres summed up in five words: “ambition, ambition, ambition, ambition and ambition.”With these objectives in mind, the UN Secretary-General has appointed Luis Alfonso de Alba as head of the organization of the 2019 Climate Summit to be held in September 2019. De Alba, a diplomat, participated in the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun in 2010. Consequently, specific transformative actions and measures need to be put into place that support the goal of making the planet habitable and sustainable both for us, as well as for future generations.