UN chief urges action to avert climate change ‘catastrophe’

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, UAE Minister of State for Youth Affairs Shamma Al-Mazrui and UAE minister of climate change Thani Al-Zeyoudi chair a panel during the opening of the Abu Dhabi climate meeting Summit on June 30, 2019 in Abu Dhabi. (AFP)
Updated 30 June 2019

UN chief urges action to avert climate change ‘catastrophe’

  • The UN chief held out hope in the Paris Agreement to cut harmful emissions and reduce global warming
  • Under the Paris Agreement, the world is required to keep temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century

ABU DHABI: UN chief Antonio Guterres said climate-related devastation was striking the planet on a weekly basis and warned Sunday that urgent action must be taken to avoid a catastrophe.
“We are here because the world is facing a grave climate emergency,” Guterres told a two-day Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting to prepare for a Climate Action Summit in New York in September.
“Climate disruption is happening now... It is progressing even faster than the world’s top scientists have predicted,” the UN secretary general said.
“It is outpacing our efforts to address it. Climate change is running faster than we are,” he said.
“Every week brings new climate-related devastation... floods, drought, heatwaves, wildfires and super storms,” Guterres said.
He warned the situation would only deteriorate unless “we act now with ambition and urgency,” but some of the world’s decision-makers still did not realize the dangers.
The UN chief held out hope in the Paris Agreement to cut harmful emissions and reduce global warming.
“But we know that even if the promises of Paris are fully met, we still face at least a three-degree temperature rise by the end of the century — a catastrophe for life as we know it,” Guterres said.
He was convening the Climate Action Summit because many countries were not even keeping pace with their promises under the Paris Agreement.
Under the Paris Agreement, the world is required to keep temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
A landmark report last year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said a safer cap of a 1.5 degree rise would see nations rapidly slash planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions via a sharp drawdown of fossil fuel use.
But some high-polluting nations, led by Saudi Arabia, have questioned the IPCC’s findings, leading to angry exchanges at closed-door talks in Bonn.
It is thought that $300 billion will be needed annually by 2030 to help nations deal with climate-related disasters.
IPCC warned in October that warming was on track toward a catastrophic 3C or 4C rise, and that avoiding global chaos would require a major transformation.
“The Climate Action Summit is an opportunity for political, business and civil society leaders to set an example,” Guterres said.


Afghan father’s perilous motorbike school run to realize daughter’s medical dream

Updated 3 min 40 sec ago

Afghan father’s perilous motorbike school run to realize daughter’s medical dream

  • Devoted dad overcomes strict traditions on female roles in hope of seeing girl become town’s first female doctor

PAKISTAN: Devoted Afghan dad Mia Khan has been hailed for going the extra mile to help his daughter achieve her dream of becoming a doctor.

Every day, the daily wage laborer, from Sharan city in Afghanistan’s eastern Paktika province, travels 12 km on his motorcycle to take Rozai to school.

And when classes end, he is there for the long and hazardous journey home through tough borderland terrain.

“You know, we don’t have any female doctors in our town. It is my ultimate wish to see my daughter as its first female doctor. I want her to serve humanity,” Khan told Arab News.

Paktika shares a 300 km border with Pakistan’s newly merged tribal districts of North and South Waziristan and parts of Balochistan province, where powerful patriarchal norms still dictate most women’s lives.

But Rozai and her father are determined to buck the trend through her tuition at Nooranya School, a community educational institution built by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan.

Rozai told Arab News: “We have to travel a long distance and I would like for a school to be established closer to our home. We are often tired (from our journey) when we arrive at school and sometimes, we are late.”

Saif-ur-Rehman Shahab, a representative of the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, told Arab News that Khan, who has for years taken his children to school on a motorcycle, deserved all the plaudits he could get. Khan has two sons and seven daughters.

“Khan gets his children, specifically his daughter Rozai, educated in a very challenging situation. We have deteriorating security and poor awareness about girls’ education here. Khan is facing acute financial challenges working as a daily wage laborer. I deeply appreciate him for facing all these challenges boldly to educate his daughter,” Shahab said.

Hikmat Safi, an adviser to Afghanistan’s chief executive, said Khan’s passion was an inspiration to others. “Amid brewing insecurity coupled with cultural limitations, this is a really positive change when people like Khan come out to educate their children, primarily daughters.”

Nooranya School has 220 female students and is one of hundreds of community-based classes and schools, predominantly attended by girls, set up by the committee in various parts of Paktika province.