UNITED NATIONS • UN Secretary- General Antonio Guterres has urged the world to raise its ambition in implementing the Paris climate agreement as the United States was poised to pull out of the landmark emissions-cutting deal.
The US is among the 147 countries and parties that have ratified the agreement but President Donald Trump has voiced concerns that the deal signed by the previous US administration could harm the US economy.
Several US media outlets reported yesterday that Mr Trump has reached a decision to withdraw the US from the agreement.
The President said on Twitter that he will make his announcement over the next few days.
Mr Guterres, who was making his first address on climate since taking the UN helm five months ago, said on Tuesday that it was "absolutely essential" that the world implements the 2015 agreement "with increased ambition".
"We believe that it would be important for the US not to leave the Paris agreement," Mr Guterres said in response to a question following his address at New York University.
"But even if the (US) government decides to leave the Paris agreement, it's very important for US society as a whole - the cities, the states, the companies, the businesses - to remain engaged."
The Paris agreement's commitment to curb carbon emissions and limit temperature rise to well below 2 deg C and as close as possible to 1.5 deg "do not nearly go far enough", he said. "We must do our utmost to increase ambition and action until we can bend the emissions curve and slow down global warming."
Mr Guterres said the UN was engaged with the US administration and Congress to try to convince them to abide by the agreement.
His appeal suggested that if the US, the world's biggest carbon emitter after China, was to quit the deal, the onus would be on other key players like China, India and the European Union to do more to fight global warming.
The Paris agreement's commitment to curb carbon emissions and limit temperature rise to well below 2 deg C and as close as possible to 1.5 deg "do not nearly go far enough", he said.
"We must do our utmost to increase ambition and action until we can bend the emissions curve and slow down global warming."
Mr Guterres pointed to growth in the clean energy sector, saying solar power grew 50 per cent last year and that more new jobs were being created in renewable energy than in oil and gas.
He argued that climate action was a sound security policy, warning of mass displacement from natural disasters or from refugees whose lands become unliveable.
The UN chief vowed to mobilise governments, the energy industry, investors and civil society to "raise the bar on climate action".
As a first step, he said he would press for ratification of an agreement reached last year on phasing out hydrofluorocarbons, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Mr Guterres also announced plans for a summit in 2019 to review progress in implementing the Paris agreement.