Climate change "threat" to SDGs "not a question of opinion": UN chief

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United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré (file)

Climate change is an "unprecedented and growing threat" to "peace, prosperity" and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), said UN chief António Guterres on Thursday.

The Secretary-General was speaking at a High-Level SDG Action event in New York, convened by the UN General Assembly.

More details from Matthew Wells.

Mr Guterres said that he had two "simple messages" to deliver, namely that the threat posed by climate change could undermine the entire 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, agreed by 193 countries, and that addressing it was "a massive opportunity we cannot afford to reject."

He said that the global warming trend was "indisputable" as was the fact that human activity was causing temperatures to rise to dangerous levels.

"This is not a question of opinion. Scientists around the world have been sounding the alarm for years. Their work has been reviewed and endorsed by all the world's governments through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We are dealing with scientific facts, not politics. And the facts are clear. Climate change is a direct threat in itself, and a multiplier of many other threats. We face serious risks across the whole 2030 Agenda."

The UN chief pointed to rising food insecurity due to drought, along with economic insecurity and water insecurity; all elevating the risk of conflict.

This he said, was why "military minds" around the world take climate change seriously, with direct consequences for "peace and security."

But the movement towards a "green economy" represents a tremendous opportunity, he added, in renewable energy, and the public-private drive for greater energy efficiency.

Climate action is essential, he concluded.

"How we go about it can be the subject of scientific and political debate. But there is no question that we must act, urgently and decisively, now."

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1’29″

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