Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to United Nations General Secretary António Guterres, “these next 10 years are our final chance to avert a climate catastrophe”.
Resilient Earth ‘Needs Our Help’ to Reverse Damage, Secretary-General Stresses in Message for World Environment Day
Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for World Environment Day, observed on 5 June:
We are rapidly reaching the point of no return for the planet. We face a triple environmental emergency — biodiversity loss, climate disruption and escalating pollution.
For too long, humanity has cut down the Earth’s forests, polluted its rivers and oceans, and ploughed its grasslands into oblivion. We are ravaging the very ecosystems that underpin our societies. And, in doing so, we risk depriving ourselves of the food, water and resources we need to survive.
The degradation of the natural world is already undermining the well-being of 3.2 billion people, or 40 per cent of humanity. Luckily, the Earth is resilient. But she needs our help. We still have time to reverse the damage we have done. That is why, on this World Environment Day, we are launching the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
This global movement will bring together Governments, businesses, civil society and private citizens in an unprecedented effort to heal the Earth. By restoring ecosystems, we can drive a transformation that will contribute to the achievement of all the Sustainable Development Goals.
The task is monumental. We need to replant and protect our forests. We need to clean up our rivers and seas. And we need to green our cities. Accomplishing these things will not only safeguard the planet’s resources. It will create millions of new jobs by 2030, generate returns of over $7 trillion every year and help eliminate poverty and hunger.
The United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is a global call to action. It will draw together political support, scientific research and financial muscle to massively scale up restoration. Everyone can contribute.
Science tells us these next 10 years are our final chance to avert a climate catastrophe, turn back the deadly tide of pollution and end species loss. So let today be the start of a new decade — one in which we finally make peace with nature and secure a better future for all.
For information media. Not an official record.Read more: https://www.un.org/press/en/2021/sgsm20757.doc.htm
The UN has a long tradition of issuing 10 year warnings. The first 10 year climate warning I know of was issued in 1989 :-
U.N. Predicts Disaster if Global Warming Not Checked
PETER JAMES SPIELMANN June 30, 1989
UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ A senior U.N. environmental official says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000.
Coastal flooding and crop failures would create an exodus of ″eco- refugees,′ ′ threatening political chaos, said Noel Brown, director of the New York office of the U.N. Environment Program, or UNEP.
He said governments have a 10-year window of opportunity to solve the greenhouse effect before it goes beyond human control.
As the warming melts polar icecaps, ocean levels will rise by up to three feet, enough to cover the Maldives and other flat island nations, Brown told The Associated Press in an interview on Wednesday.
Coastal regions will be inundated; one-sixth of Bangladesh could be flooded, displacing a fourth of its 90 million people. A fifth of Egypt’s arable land in the Nile Delta would be flooded, cutting off its food supply, according to a joint UNEP and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study.
″Ecological refugees will become a major concern, and what’s worse is you may find that people can move to drier ground, but the soils and the natural resources may not support life. Africa doesn’t have to worry about land, but would you want to live in the Sahara?″ he said.
…Read more: https://www.apnews.com/bd45c372caf118ec99964ea547880cd0 (Link to a PDF copy of the AP article.)
Why is the chosen time period 10 years? My theory is it has to do with the length of tenure of UN secretary generals.
A secretary general term is five years. If the Secretary General provides satisfactory service, they can be appointed for a further five years. Gutteres first term ends December this year.
A 10 year climate warning is near term enough to generate a little excitement, but far enough into the future so Gutteres will be safely retired by the time his climate deadline arrives.