UNGA 78: ‘Humanity has opened gates to hell’, UN chief warns

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks at a press conference at the United Nations complex in Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya May 3, 2023. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya/File Photo

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says “humanity has opened the gates to hell’’ with extreme weather having horrendous effects on the global population.

Guterres said this on Wednesday as a broad global coalition of “movers and doers” politicians, business and civil society gathered in New York for the first ever Climate Ambition Summit.

UN Secretary General’s Climate Ambition Summit will be held on Thursday.

Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu will be attending the meeting.

In his address on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to politicians, business, activists and civil society leaders, the UN chief issued a stark warning about the dire consequences of inaction.

With extreme weather events accelerating, “humanity has opened the gates to hell,” Guterres said,

He described distressing scenes of farmers helplessly watching crops washed away by floods, the emergence of virulent disease due to rising temperatures, and the mass exodus of people fleeing historic wildfires.

“Our focus here is on climate solutions – and our task is urgent,” he said.

He warned that climate action was being “dwarfed by the scale of the challenge”, with humanity heading towards a 2.8°C temperature rise, increasing danger and instability.

But “the future is not fixed” he added, and the Paris Agreement target of limiting temperature rise as close as possible to 1.5°C is still attainable.

“We can still build a world of clear air, green jobs, and affordable clean power for all,” he said, addressing the high-level gathering of “first movers and doers”.

Activists are refusing to be silenced, Indigenous Peoples are rallying to defend their ancestral land, and corporate executives are transforming how they do business.

The UN chief is calling for a Climate Solidarity Pact that will hold major emitters more to account, and calling on wealthy countries to support emerging economies so they can weather the crisis.