U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres brought an urgent climate message to the European Union summit Thursday in Brussels, encouraging leaders of the bloc’s 27 member nations to take dramatic action.
Speaking to reporters alongside European Council President Charles Michel at EU headquarters, Guterres cited a report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change earlier this week.
That report called on nations to cut carbon emissions in half in the next 10 to 15 years if they want a chance at slowing global warming.
Guterres said dramatic action is needed because, “We are close to the tipping point that will make 1.5 degrees [Celsius] impossible to achieve,” referring to a target goal of limiting the global temperature increase established by the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate.
On the subject of climate, the EU’s ban on internal combustion engines by 2035 — initially approved last month by the European Parliament — was being discussed by leaders as they arrived at the summit. Germany has asked EU officials for an exception to the ban, allowing combustion engines that run on carbon-neutral synthetic “E” fuels.
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said he supports the German proposal and would like to see the issue on the agenda at the summit. Luxembourg’s prime minister, Xavier Bettel, on the other hand, said the issue was not intended to be discussed at this week’s meetings.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told the Reuters news agency his country and EU officials are in discussions on the issue and “everything is on the right track” to resolving it.
Guterres — a guest at the summit — is also expected to discuss renewal of the deal brokered by the U.N. and Turkey to allow grain shipments out of Ukraine ports otherwise sealed by a Russian blockade.
The EU leaders are also expected to get updates on the war in Ukraine from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy via video link. EU leaders are expected to endorse a deal aimed at sending one million rounds of artillery shells to Ukraine within the next 12 months.
Some information for this report was provided by the Associated Press, Reuters and AFP.