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United Nations leader arrives in New Zealand on climate change trip

United Nations leader arrives in New Zealand on climate change trip

"The paradox is that as things are getting worse on the ground, political will seems to be fading".

After New Zealand, Mr Guterres will travel to Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Fiji to meet with leaders who have for years been warning that numerous Pacific's small island nations face being washed away by rising sea levels due to global warming.

"We are seeing everywhere a clear demonstration that we are not on track to achieve the objectives defined in the Paris agreement", Mr Guterres said on the failure to limit rises to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial revolution levels.

Three steps, continued Mr Guterres, would make a major difference in the urgent fight against climate change: shifting shift taxes from salaries to carbon, ending subsidies to fossil fuels, and stopping the construction of new coal plants by 2020.

Global emissions are reaching record levels - the last four years were the four hottest on record, and winter temperatures in the Arctic have risen by 3°C since 1990.

Coal-based power is key according to UN-environment's 2018 Emissions Gap Report: all plants now in operation are committing the world to around 190 giga tonnes of CO2, and if all coal power plants now under construction go into operation and run until the end of their technical lifetime, emissions will increase by another 150 giga tonnes, jeopardizing our ability to limit global warming by 2°C as agreed upon in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

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On 23 September, the United Nations chief is convening a Climate Change Summit to galvanize increased ambition for decisive climate action.

"It's heartening to see substantial proposals for taxing polluters, tackling climate change and protecting water quality", Greenpeace executive director Russel Norman said. The bill is expected to come to a final vote in Parliament later this year. "We need to protect the lives of all people and we need to protect our planet".

He said he admired the solidarity New Zealand showed after the attack, and praised Ardern for helping implement new gun control laws and for urging other world leaders and tech companies to find a way to prevent acts of extremism from being shown online, after the gunman livestreamed his attack on Facebook.

Guterres also plans to visit the South Pacific island nations of Fiji, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The Climate Action Summit is set to take place in NY on September 23rd.