Climate action vital to help Caribbean recover from hurricanes: UN chief

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Secretary-General António Guterres at United Nations Headquarters speaks to journalists on the countries affected by the recent hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Caribbean islands devastated by hurricanes in recent weeks need the world to take action on climate change in order to secure their future.

That's the view of UN chief António Guterres, speaking to the press at UN Headquarters in New York on Wednesday.

The Secretary-General announced he would be visiting the islands of Antigua, Barbuda and Dominica on Saturday, to survey the damage for himself.

Matt Wells reports.

Mr Guterres described meeting the Prime Minister of Dominica during the opening week of the UN General Assembly, who said he had come "straight from the front line of the war on climate change."

That was no exaggeration, said the UN chief, pointing to the scientific models which had long predicted an increase in Category 4 and 5 hurricanes, like Irma and Maria.

He said that climate change was warming seas, creating rainier, faster and more devastating weather conditions in vulnerable regions like the Caribbean.

Mr Guterres said the UN had launched appeals for nearly US$114 million to cover the immediate humanitarian needs in the Caribbean, but the international response so far, had been poor.

"The United Nations will continue to help countries in the Caribbean to strengthen disaster preparedness, working closely with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. We are strongly committed to helping small island states and, indeed, all countries to adapt to inevitable climate impacts, to increase the pace of recovery and to strengthen resilience overall. Innovative financing mechanisms will be crucial in enabling countries, like the Caribbean ones, to cope with external shocks of such significant magnitude."

The UN chief said the whole world needed to move faster towards a "green, clean, sustainable energy future," and implement the historic Paris Agreement on cutting CO2 emissions, "with greater ambition."

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'19"

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