Climate change 'at point of no return': Ban

The Hague (AFP) –


Former UN chief Ban Ki-Moon warned Tuesday the world is at the "point of no return" on climate change as he launched an international commission on responses to global warming.

The Global Commission on Adaptation is endorsed by 17 countries including major economic powers China, Germany and India and will look at ways the world -- especially poor nations -- can shield themselves against the impact of rising temperatures.

"We are at the point of no return," Ban told an audience at the commission's launch in The Hague, where the Netherlands hosted its 28 commissioners.

Ban's remarks followed the release of a landmark United Nations report earlier this month that warned of global warming-triggered chaos unless dramatic action is taken.

The world must choose from two paths: one that could lead to a "more climate resilient future," said Ban, the United Nations secretary general from 2007 to 2016.

"Or we can continue with the status quo, putting at risk global economic growth and social stability that will undermine our food and water security... for decades to come," he said.

The commission is co-led by US billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates and the World Bank's Kristalina Georgieva.

On current trends, Earth is on track to warm up an unlivable three or four degrees Celsius (5.4 to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, far about the 1.5 C climate-safe threshold endorsed last week by the UN in its climate change assessment.

- Paris pact withdrawal -

International efforts to create a united front to tackle global warming have been hit by the US withdrawal from the Paris climate pact, with US President Donald Trump again on Monday questioning climate change.

The commission will look at measures countries can take to defend themselves against the effects of climate change, such as rising water levels and prolonged droughts.

Dutch knowledge of working with water will form part of the commission's recommended actions, which will be presented at the UN's climate summit in September next year.

"For the Netherlands, looking for solutions to water issues is part of everyday life," Dutch Infrastructure and Water Management Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen said before the commission's launch.

"But experience has taught us that prevention is better than cure," she said.

Storm surges and tidal cycles caused record sea levels along the Dutch coastline last year and are closely watched in a country where much of the land lies below sea level.

The Netherlands is protected from flooding by a series of defences such as dykes, sand dunes, windmills to pump away water and sophisticated barrages.