United Nations General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa on Tuesday cited several natural disasters across the world, including the recent floods in Kerala, to urge world leaders to act faster to slow down climate change, PTI reported.
More than 483 people died and a million were displaced in August during Kerala’s worst floods in a century. During the worst phase of the flooding, there were 14,50,707 people living in relief camps.
Espinosa was speaking while inaugurating the 73rd General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly.
Listing out her priorities, she said: “We will work to give greater attention to environmental protection and to make progress on the agreements aimed at slowing climate change. Heatwaves, forest fires, storms and floods are leaving behind a trail of death and destruction.”
“In August, the state of Kerala in India suffered its worst monsoon flood in recent history, which killed 400 people and displaced a million more from their homes,” she said. “Hurricanes killed thousands of people in 2017, making them one of the deadliest extreme climate disasters in history.”
“We have a responsibility to slow the production and consumption policies and habits that are destroying our planet,” she said, adding that millions of people are suffering due to violence, war and the effects of climate change around the world.
“The reality is that the work of the UN remains as relevant as it was 73 years ago,” Espinosa added. “Multilateralism is the only possible answer to the global problems we face. Weakening or putting it in question only generates instability and bewilderment, distrust and polarisation.”
Earlier this month, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also cited the floods while expressing concern that climate change was “running faster than we are”.
“Climate change has been proven to amplify and exacerbate other risks,” he had said. “The impacts are devastating, and it is usually the poorest and the most vulnerable who are hit first and worst by storms, floods, droughts, wildfires and rising seas.” He added that climate-related disasters were responsible for thousands of deaths last year and $320 billion (Rs 23,064 crore) in losses.