UN chief warns against 'survival of the richest' on climate

UN chief warns against 'survival of the richest' on climate

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MADRID (AP) — Failure to tackle global warming could result in economic disaster, the United Nations Secretary-General warned Thursday in Madrid, as negotiators at the U.N. climate talks remained deadlocked over key issues.

António Guterres said unrestrained climate change would allow only the “survival of the richest," while former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the “absence of leadership” from Washington was a big obstacle in the talks.

“It's very difficult to get this done if the United States of America isn't there,” the veteran diplomat told The Associated Press during an interview in the Spanish capital, adding that he felt negotiators were holding their breath until the next U.S. presidential election at the end of 2020.

President Donald Trump's administration has begun the process of abandoning an ambitious 2015 global deal forged by his predecessor Barack Obama that aimed to contain rising temperatures on the planet. Officially the U.S. leaves the Paris accord on Nov. 4, 2020, the day after the U.S. election.

“I think Glasgow is already more of a target in many people's minds here, and that handicaps the process slightly,” Kerry said, referring to the venue of next year's U.N. climate summit.

In Madrid, “there will be accomplishments, there'll be some forward progress, but really, everyone knows that the crunch is going to come next year with the raising ambition issue," he added.

Scientists say countries need to stop burning fossil fuels by 2050 at the latest to ensure global temperatures don't rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) this century.

Not giving up on that goal, U.N. chief Guterres urged officials from almost 200 countries to embrace the economic opportunities that come with cutting greenhouse gases...

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