The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, issued a dire warning on Monday to representatives from 40 countries at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, calling for more concrete action to tackle what he called a “climate emergency.”
“We have a choice,” Mr. Guterres said in a video message. “Collective action or collective suicide. It is in our hands.”
Mr. Guterres did not directly address the heat wave punishing much of Europe, but his comments came as swaths of the continent faced dangerously high temperatures on Monday, spurring wildfires in some areas.
Wales reached its highest temperature on record on Monday, 37.1 degrees Celsius (98.8 Fahrenheit), beating a record set earlier in the day, according to Britain’s national weather service. In addition to the heat wave, France and Spain also face wildfires in some regions.
“Half of humanity is in the danger zone from floods, droughts, extreme storms and wildfires,” Mr. Guterres said. “No nation is immune.”
The Petersberg Climate Dialogue serves as a forum for discussing climate protection agreements before the U.N. climate change conference, known as COP27, in Egypt this November. In his address, Mr. Guterres highlighted the need to reduce emissions, treat climate adaptation with urgency, offer financial backing for developing countries, and create a “concrete global response” to help the most vulnerable. Mr. Guterres said that people in Africa, South Asia, and Central and South America are 15 times more likely to die from extreme weather events.
“In facing this global crisis, we are failing to work together as a multilateral community,” Mr. Guterres said. “Nations continue to play the blame game instead of taking responsibility for our collective future. We cannot continue this way.”