file photo:United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the audience at the opening ceremony of the UN climate change summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.AP
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres kicked off the world body’s annual assembly on Tuesday with a call for tougher action on climate change and Covid-19, as world leaders prepared to head to the diplomatic gathering in New York, The Nation reports.
The UN chief said this year’s General Assembly comes “at a moment of great challenge and division”, amid slow progress on cutting heat-trapping gas emissions and overcoming the coronavirus pandemic.
The world body's annual high-level week begins next week, when US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other statesmen are set to speak in person in Manhattan at the General Debate of the UN’s 193 members.
“As Covid-19 and climate change are proving every day, challenges and threats are borderless,” said Mr Guterres at the formal opening of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.
“They affect us all.”
He said vaccines and treatments for tackling Covid-19 were being hoarded by the rich and called for a faster roll-out of shots to stop a pandemic that has claimed more than 4.5 million lives globally.
The secretary general also called for big economies to raise their ambitions for cutting emissions of planet-heating gases like carbon dioxide and methane to stop rising temperatures that drive fires, floods and other disastrous weather.
“We need countries to commit and live up to bold climate targets at Cop26 in Glasgow,” he said, referring to key climate talks in the Scottish city in November.
“The war on our planet must end.”
The White House confirmed on Monday that Biden would travel to UN headquarters to deliver his address to the world body in person on September 21.
The president is expected to frame US foreign policy goals following last month’s chaotic exit of American and Nato forces from Afghanistan after a 20-year deployment as the Taliban swept back to power