Mon, 21 Oct 2019

The United Nations has kicked off a major climate summit in New York at which some world 60 leaders are expected to deliver their pledges to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions.

Ahead of the September 23 summit, Russia adopted the 2015 Paris climate agreement to reduce the rate of global warming.

Opening the one-day event, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it was now time to act to make the world carbon-neutral by 2050.

'Earth is issuing a chilling cry: 'Stop,'' Guterres told leaders. 'If we don't urgently change our ways of life, we jeopardize life itself.'

U.S. President Donald Trump was not scheduled to attend the summit, but he made a brief appearance.

Ahead of the gathering, which comes ahead of international climate negotiations next year, the UN said 66 countries had signaled their intent to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

And at a Russian government meeting, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev presented a decree he had signed for the country to adopt the 2015 Paris Agreement, which pledged to keep global temperatures 'well below' 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial times and 'endeavor to limit' them even more, to 1.5 degrees.

'The threat of climate change is [the] destruction of the ecological balance, increased risks for successful development of key industries...and most importantly, threat to safety of people living on permafrost and increase of natural disasters,' Medvedev said.

Environment Minister Dmitry Kobylkin said Russia now had to set targets for 'decreasing anthropogenic emissions and increasing absorption of greenhouse gases' as well as adapt the country to the changing climate.

Moscow had initially signed the accord, which came into force in 2016, but not ratified it.

The move comes as scientists warn that the signs and impacts of global warming are speeding up.

The World Meteorological Organization says global temperatures have risen by 1.1 degrees since 1850, and gone up by 0.2 degrees between 2011 and 2015.

The amount of greenhouse gas going into the atmosphere between 2015 and 2019 had grown by 20 percent compared to the previous five years, it says in a report published on September 23.

With reporting by AFP, the BBC, AP, and dpa

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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