The world's efforts to stop climate change have been "completely inadequate,quot; until now and there is a danger that global warming can pass the "point of no return,quot;, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said.
Speaking before the start of Monday of an international two-week climate conference in Spain, the UN chief said that the effect of rising temperatures, including more extreme weather, is already being felt worldwide with consequences dramatic for humans and other species.
The COP25 talks in Madrid will focus on finalizing the rules for global carbon markets and establishing a fund to help countries that are already recovering from climate change: improved heat waves, droughts, floods and storms made worse by the rising seas.
Guterres said the world has the scientific knowledge and technical means to limit global warming, but "what is missing is political will."
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"The point of no return is no longer on the horizon," Guterres told reporters in the Spanish capital. "It is in sight and rushes towards us."
Guterres cited the growing scientific evidence of the impact that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are already having on the planet, including record temperatures and polar ice melting.
But he insisted that his message was "one of hope, not despair."
"Our war against nature must stop and we know that this is possible," he said.
Countries agreed in Paris four years ago to limit global warming to less than two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), ideally 1.5C (2.7F) by the end of the century compared to pre-industrial times.
Lack of ambition
Guterres said about 70 countries, many of the most vulnerable to climate change, have pledged to stop emitting more greenhouse gases by 2050.
"But we also see clearly that the world's largest emitters are not pulling their weight. And without them, our goal is unattainable," he said.
The UN chief said he hoped the meeting in Madrid would see governments make more ambitious promises before the deadline to do so next year.
"Some countries like China and Japan are showing their unwillingness to increase ambition," said Laurence Tubiana, CEO of the European Climate Foundation, and one of the leading architects of the Paris Agreement.
The president of the United States, Donald Trump, withdrew the United States from the Paris agreement completely, formally notifying the UN in November of this year of his government's intentions.
Organizers expect around 29,000 visitors, including about 50 heads of state and government for Monday's opening, as well as scientists, experienced negotiators and activists during the two-week meeting.
More than 5,000 police officers are in charge of keeping the summit safe, the Interior Ministry of Spain said on Sunday.
Although the authorities have intensified border controls and cybersecurity measures, the authorities have kept the country's security alert at a low level, where it has been since the attacks in Tunisia and France in mid-2015.