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World ‘way off course’ in climate change fight: UN chief

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Countries must slash greenhouse gases but are not doing it fast enough: UN

KATOWICE, POLAND : The world is "way off course" in its plan to prevent catastrophic climate change, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said yesterday as the COP24 summit officially opened in Poland.

After a string of damning environmental reports showing mankind must drastically slash greenhouse gas emissions to avert runaway global warming, Mr Guterres told delegates "we are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough".

The nearly 200 nations that signed up to the 2015 Paris climate deal must this month finalise a rulebook to limit global temperature rises to well below 2 deg C , and to the safer cap of 1.5 deg C if possible.

But the rate of climate change is rapidly outstripping mankind's response.

With just 1 deg C of warming so far, Earth is blighted by raging wildfires, extreme drought and mega-storms made worse by rising sea levels.

"Even as we witness devastating climate impacts causing havoc across the world, we are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough, to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption," Mr Guterres said.

The World Bank will do its part to combat climate change, said chief executive Kristalina Georgieva yesterday.

It will give equal weight to curbing emissions and helping poor countries deal with the effects of a warming world.

The bank and its two sister organisations plan to double their investments in climate action to about US$200 billion (S$273 billion) from 2021 to 2025, with a boost for efforts to adapt to higher temperatures, wilder weather and rising seas.

The latest figures on climate funding for developing countries show barely a quarter has been going to adaptation, with the bulk backing adoption of clean energy and more efficient energy use, aimed at cutting planet warming emissions.

Of the US$100 billion the World Bank plans to make available in the five years from mid-2020, half would go to adaptation measures, it said.

Those include building more robust infrastructure, preparing farmers for climate shifts, managing water and protecting people's incomes through social safety nets, Ms Georgieva added. The money would also improve weather forecasts and provide early warning and climate information services for 250 million people in 30 developing countries.

"Climate change is an existential threat to the world's poorest and most vulnerable. These new targets demonstrate how seriously we are taking this issue," World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim said.- AFP, REUTERS