United Nations chief Antonio Guterres on Thursday cautioned that the world risks losing the race against climate change and the political will seems to be slowing down in this fight.
“I think the climate risk is the most important systemic risk for the near future,” he said in a special address at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting here.
“I believe we are losing the race. Climate change is running faster than we are… We are moving dramatically into a runaway climate change if we are not able to stop it, and at the same time, I see the political will slowing down,” he said.
“This when technology is on our side and we see more and more the business community ready to respond in a positive way and the civil society more and more engaged, but the political will is still very slow, and we see lots of subsidies to fossil fuels, we see carbon pricing in a very limited way, and we see many still putting into doubt whether climate change is a threat.
“In my opinion, it’s the most important global systemic threat in relation to the global economy,” Guterres said.
On globalisation, he said with all its fantastic improvements in the world and the technological progress, it has increased inequality at the country level.
“There are people that were left behind … That has created a sense of frustration in the rust belts of these worlds and this has been a factor of reducing confidence, trust in governments, in political establishments, and in international organisations like ours,” he said.
He also warned that the political megatrends show that we are witnessing a multiplication of conflicts, more and more interrelated and related to a threat of global terrorism but at the same time the response is more and more fragmented.
“We no longer live in a bipolar or unipolar world but we are not yet in a multipolar world. We are in a kind of chaotic situation of transition.
“The relationship between the three most important powers, Russia, the United States and China, has never been as dysfunctional as it is today and this is true for the economy, but it’s also true in the paralysis of the Security Council in many very important aspects,” he said.
He also said the global economy faces two major risks.
“The first risk is probably trade tensions, and trade tensions are today essentially a political problem.
“A second risk of course related to the debt that is much higher than in the last financial crisis, and which is limiting the capacity to respond to any potential emerging crisis, and also limiting the capacity of states to implement the projects that would be necessary to achieve the sustainable development goals,” he said.
“Then we have the instability in financial markets, and clearly it’s a matter of confidence, so political events have an influence on that.
“…If one looks at the shutdowns and the Brexit saga, there is a certain sense that political systems do not know exactly what to do when dealing with problems that have strong economic impacts, and so that is a factor of lack of confidence and a factor of lack of confidence creates or increases instability in the markets,” Guterres said.