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UN climate talks need compromise, not stubbornness: UN chief

The COP24 climate conference opening in Poland aims to agree on a roadmap to advance the 2015 Paris climate deal
The COP24 climate conference opening in Poland aims to agree on a roadmap to advance the 2015 Paris climate deal AFP/File

United Nations (United States) (AFP)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged leaders at the UN climate conference kicking off next week to set aside stubbornness and instead compromise to seal a deal on implementing the Paris climate accord.

Guterres will join delegates from nearly 200 countries at the COP24 conference that opens Sunday in the southern Polish city of Katowice, with the aim of agreeing a plan to move forward on the 2015 climate deal.

World leaders have been trying to breathe new life into the Paris Agreement following the US decision to pull out of the deal and backsliding from several nations over commitments made.

"At the moment, we are headed for a world of cataclysm and uncertainty due to climate disruption," Guterres told reporters at UN headquarters.

He called on governments to show ambition and leadership to meet the climate challenges, adding that "leadership is also the capacity to compromise."

"Leadership is to understand that the agreement is the most important objective. That, more than to be very stubborn in staying in each one's position."

"It is very important to fill the need to compromise and to find something that can be acceptable for everybody in order for Katowice to be a success."

The Paris climate deal is to take effect in 2020 and calls for limiting global warming to less than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Experts warn that global warming is on track to surpass three degrees by 2100 and urge governments to do more than first planned to rein it in.

- More disasters -

The United Nations has been haunted by the dismal failure of the 2009 Copenhagen summit, when a key opportunity to turn the corner on global warming was missed when no deal was struck.

"Failure to act means more disasters and emergencies and air pollution that could cost the global economy as much as 21 trillion dollars by 2050," warned Guterres.

The UN chief will raise climate in his talks at the G20 summit in Argentina, where he will be traveling later Wednesday.

G20 countries are responsible for more than three-quarters of greenhouse emissions, he said, and they "have the power to bend the emissions curve."

In its latest report released Tuesday, the United Nations warned that several countries were not on track to meet their commitments.

The United States, the world's second biggest carbon emitter, will miss its targets, as will Australia, Canada and South Korea, the UN report said. The European Union and South Africa will also fall short.

Top emitters China and Russia are both on track, but mostly because their goals were so modest to begin with, as are Brazil, Japan and Turkey.

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