United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has kicked off a major United Nations push for progress on what he calls the defining issue of our time: climate change. Guterres traveled to New Zealand on Sunday, from where he is set to visit several Pacific islands where rising sea levels are threatening the very existence of those small countries.
The stepped-up diplomacy will culminate with a climate action summit at the UN in September, an event billed as a last chance to prevent irreversible climate change, three years after the Paris agreement went into force.
We are seeing everywhere a clear demonstration that we are not on track to achieve the objectives defined in the Paris agreement, Guterres said on the failure to limit rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial revolution levels.
In a strong message for action on climate change, Guterres said international political resolve was fading and it was the small island nations that were really in the front line and would suffer most.
In Fiji, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, Guterres will meet with families whose lives have been upended by cyclones, flooding and other extreme weather events.
Pacific island countries face an especially dire risk from climate change because of sea level rise. In some cases, low-lying countries could disappear completely.
Fiji is working to build a coalition of more than 90 countries from the Caribbean, Africa and Asia facing climate crisis.
We hope that the secretary-general will draw far more inspiration from his first visit to go further, faster and deeper with the climate summit, Fiji's UN Ambassador Satyendra Prasad said. We are very hopeful that the climate summit will mark a turning point.
Guterres on Sunday praised New Zealand's extremely important leadership on climate change - Wellington has introduced legislation to become carbon neutral by 2050 - but warned that international political resolve was fading.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern, speaking at the joint press conference in Auckland, called climate change the biggest challenge facing the global community and said it would be gross negligence to avoid the issue.
Guterres' mission may be further complicated by Trump's nomination of Kelly Knight Craft as UN ambassador.
Craft, who is married to a major coal magnate, raised eyebrows for declaring that she believed both sides of climate science, indicating she may well be out of sync with the UN on the issue.