In Davos, the head of the UN condemns the “dire state” of the world, from the climate crisis to wars

“I am not here to gloss over the scale of this challenge – or the plight of our world,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, noting that the world is in the middle of a perfect storm on many fronts. Many parts of the world are in recession and the whole world is facing a slowdown.

At the Davos meeting, he painted a grim picture of a planet with supply chain disruptions and energy shortages. Marked by rising prices and inflation, as well as high debt levels, the situation hit vulnerable countries.

Add to all this the ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Davos also gave him an opportunity to repeat his plea for protecting the planet and fighting climate change to end our “self-destructive war on nature” as the planet flirts with “climate catastrophe”. The head of the UN has warned about global warming: “If we do not take additional measures, we are heading for an increase of 2.8 degrees Celsius.”

Pakistan was hit hard by catastrophic floods last summer.

Oil giants’ “big lie” about the climate crisis

Taking the opportunity to denounce the “big lie of the oil industry”, Mr Guterres believes that closing the gap in greenhouse gas emissions, abandoning coal and accelerating the renewable energy revolution is essential to end this.

“We learned last week that some fossil fuel producers knew full well that their advanced products in the 1970s would set the planet on fire. But like the tobacco industry, they ignored their own science. “Some oil giants resorted to a big lie,” he said, noting that “responsible persons should be prosecuted” as well as tobacco companies.

Meanwhile, this is not the direction the oil industry seems to be headed, laments the UN chief: “Today, fossil fuel producers and their backers continue to struggle to increase production, knowing full well that their economic models are incompatible. with the survival of mankind”. “This is crazy science fiction, but we know that ecosystem collapse is an undeniable scientific fact,” he said.

“Add to this toxic mix another combustible factor – conflict, violence, war,” he said, citing the aftermath of the war in Ukraine and its effects on food and energy prices.

On another level, the UN Secretary-General again called for avoiding a new Cold War, which would worsen the situation between the West and the Chinese.

“The International Monetary Fund (IMF) noted that dividing the world economy into two blocs could significantly reduce the world GDP by 1.4 trillion dollars (…). For historians who might listen: we must avoid the 21st century continuation of the Thucydides trap, he said. Thucydides’ trap is a concept of international relations that defines a situation in which a dominant power goes to war with an emerging power, the former being driven by the fear it arouses in the latter due to its increasing power.

Another problem is the growing tension between rich and developing countries. “I’m not sure that the richer world and its leaders really understand the level of frustration and even anger in the South,” said António Guterres, calling for action to end the latter’s anger over the pandemic, climate or financial issues.

Build trust and embrace multilateralism

The UN chief thus warned of the effects of this “frustration and anger at a morally bankrupt financial system, where systemic inequalities exacerbate societal inequalities”. A system where the debt service of most of the world’s poorest countries has increased by 35% in the last year alone.

In general, the planet is far from being in the “best of all possible worlds” and the world is far from converging. Faced with “geopolitical division and a level of mistrust not seen in generations,” he felt “there is no perfect solution in a perfect storm.”

But the world can now try to “limit the damage and take advantage of the opportunities that arise.”

The Secretary-General of the UN urged the international community to embrace multilateral institutions, to build trust where it is lacking, because the world cannot wait,” and concluded, “More than ever, it is time to create ways of cooperation in our fragmented world.” .

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