TODAY |

'We are not on track' - UN Secretary General gives stern warning on climate change after touching down in New Zealand

The Secretary General of the United Nations has touched down in New Zealand as he begins a tour of Pacific countries, telling media today that the world is "not on track" to limiting world temperature rises to an acceptable level.

António Guterres was welcomed with a pōwhiri before addressing media alongside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Auckland.

Your playlist will load after this ad

Mr Guterres has come to discuss climate change and to pay his respects to the Christchurch Muslim community. Source: 1 NEWS

He said his visit to Aotearoa has a two-fold purpose - the first being to show solidarity during Ramadan with those affected by the Christchurch terrorist attack, and the second being to reinforce his message of urgency around climate change.

"This is a visit of both solidarity and gratitude ... solidarity first of all with the victims of Christchurch, with their families, with the community, with the city but also with the people and the government of New Zealand," Mr Guterres said.

He explained that each year he conducts a visit of solidarity to a Muslim population, and this year chose Christchurch.

"I'd like to say how much I admire Prime Minister, your leadership – the way you convey very strong messages to your country and to the world, the way you immediately took measures in relation to this aspect of gun control, and now you’re call to action in relation to the need to prevent the negative aspects of social media and the Internet in relation to hate speech is something that is of course very important for us," he said.

Mr Guterres gave a strong message on climate change, saying that "political will is fading", and that New Zealand and other Pacific countries are among those with the most to lose.

"We are facing a climate emergency - climate change is running faster than what we are," he said.

Your playlist will load after this ad

Antonion Guterres is visiting New Zealand, and says this country is well-placed to lead the world on the issue. Source: 1 NEWS

"The last four years have been the hottest registered ... we are seeing record levels both in the rise of temperatures across the globe, in relation to the rising level of the oceans, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."

He said that despite clear effect being seen across the globe, and clear warnings being given by the scientific community, "political will is fading" and that "we are not on track to acheve the objectives defined in the Paris Agreement".

New Zealand, however, is in line with those objectives, he said, praising Ms Ardern for her leadership on the issue.

"The paradox is that as things are getting worse on the ground, political will seems to be fading.

"That is why the leadership of the government of New Zealand is extremely important and that's why I’m very grateful for that.

Not only is New Zealand fully in line with what was promised by New Zealand in Paris, but New Zealand is introducing legislation to achieve a fundamental goal that the scientific community has defined as absolutely crucial, which is to reach the end of the century without more than 1.5 degrees, which means achieving carbon neutrality before 2050," Mr Guterres said.

"We absolutely must catch up - we absolutely must be able to stop this dramatic trend - to reverse this dramatic trend.

"We can not allow for runaway climate change."

Ms Ardern spoke briefly about the upcoming summit around preventing hate speech online and atrocities being live streamed, promising that it will "have really practical outcomes".

"There are specific requests both of government and also tech companies, Ms Ardern said.

"We expect other nations are likely to sign up in the months that follow."

Ms Ardern also mentioned that she had spoken on the phone with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the issue.

Mr Guterres said the world must "make sure that new technolgoies ... become a force for good - and not a dramatic risk for our common future".

Ms Guterres will visit New Zealand until Tuesday, and will give a keynote speech at Auckland University tomorrow.

Your playlist will load after this ad

Antonio Guterres said he decided to visit Christchurch during Ramadan as a show of solidarity. Source: 1 NEWS