21 April 2016, GENEVA – The head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mr. Robert Glasser, today called on signatories to the Paris Agreement to go beyond their existing commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if the world is to avoid catastrophic future weather events.
“I welcome the fact that over 160 countries have declared they are signing up to the Paris Agreement but we are in real danger of being overtaken by the rapid pace of global warming if signatories do not significantly scale up the level of their ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“It is clear that weather and climate are implicated in 90% of major disaster events attributed to natural hazards. Droughts, floods, storms and heatwaves have the potential to undermine many developing states’ efforts to eradicate poverty. Climate change is adding to pre-existing levels of risk fuelled by exposure and socio-economic vulnerability.
“Over the last 12 months we have witnessed a devastating series of events which included a doubling in the number of droughts worldwide partly triggered by El Nino. The food security of 100 million people is threatened, many of them already desperately poor. Devastating wildfires have resulted in a major ecological and health disaster in south-east Asia. A shocking coral bleaching event caused by record sea surface temperatures is threatening some of the world’s most precious natural resources.
“Signing the Paris Agreement is a first step but the world needs to make a stand now for a rapid transition away from fossil fuels in favour of renewable sources of energy. Otherwise the humanitarian burden of responding to the needs of disaster victims is going to grow exponentially and economic losses will continue to escalate depriving the world of revenues which could be better spent on critical needs such as health, education and social safety nets for the poor.”