LONDON : UN chief Antonio Guterres on Saturday urged world leaders to declare a ''state of emergency'' and shape greener growth after the coronavirus pandemic, as he opened a summit marking five years since the landmark Paris Agreement.

The Climate Ambition Summit, being held online, comes as the United Nations warns current commitments to tackle rise in global temperatures are inadequate.

The commitments made in Paris in 2015 were, ''far from enough'' to limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the UN Secretary General said in his opening address to the summit, which is co-hosted by Britain and France.

''If we don't change course, we may be headed for a catastrophic temperature rise of more than 3.0 degrees this century,'' he said.

''That is why today, I call on on all leaders worldwide to declare a State of Climate Emergency in their countries until carbon neutrality is reached,'' he added, arguing the recovery from Coid-19 presented a rare opportunity to recalibrate growth.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the climate summit that a traumatic year of pandemic was ending with hope of vaccines coming on-stream.

''My message to you all is that together, we can use scientific advances to protect our planet, our biosphere against a challenge far worse far more destructive, than even the coronavirus pandemic,'' he said.

For its par, Britain was acting on climate not because it was a nation of ''mung bean-eating eco freaks,''  but because scientific progress would allow the creations of ''millions'' of green jobs, Johnson added.

Speaking slots were handed to countries that submitted the most ambitious plans to accelerate their Paris promises. These include Honduras and Guatemala, which were hit last month by a pair of monster hurricanes, as well as India, which is battling increasingly erratic weather patterns and air pollution.

But major economies including Australia, Brazil and South Africa are absent. Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has dismissed the scale of destruction to the Amazon rainforest opened by his climate-sceptic policies.

The United States, the world's second-largest polluter after China, left Paris Agreement under President Donald Trump.President elect Joe Biden plans immediately to reenter the accord, and has set a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.

Under the Paris climate accord, signatories committed to action to limit temperature rises to ''well below'' 2.0 Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and try to restrain them to 1.5C.

But the UN warned this week that temperatures remain on course to rise more than 3.0 C. this century, creating a crisis that will ''dwarf the impacts of Covid-19''. [AFP]


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