Speaking in New York, the secretary-general described the intense heat across the Northern Hemisphere as a “cruel summer.”
“For the entire planet, it is a disaster,” he said, noting that “short of a mini-Ice Age over the next days, July 2023 will shatter records across the board.”
“Climate change is here. It is terrifying. And it is just the beginning. The era of global warming has ended; the era of global boiling has arrived.”
The extreme impacts of climate change have been in line with scientists’ “predictions and repeated warnings,” Guterres said, adding that the “only surprise is the speed of the change.”
In the face of “tragic” consequences, he repeated his call for swift and far-reaching action, taking aim once again at the fossil fuel sector.
“The air is unbreathable. The heat is unbearable. And the level of fossil fuel profits and climate inaction is unacceptable,” said the former Portuguese prime minister.
“Leaders must lead,” he said. “No more hesitancy. No more excuses. No more waiting for others to move first.”
Ahead of the Climate Ambition Summit he is set to host in September, Guterres called on developed countries to commit to achieving carbon neutrality as close to 2040 as possible, and for emerging economies as close as possible to 2050.
The “destruction” unleashed by humanity “must not inspire despair, but action,” he said, warning that to prevent the worst outcomes humanity “must turn a year of burning heat into a year of burning ambition.”