scientificamerican | President Obama used his final address to the U.N. General Assembly yesterday to warn that climate change would worsen the kind of unrest and inequality that has spurred a global refugee crisis.
Speaking before a high-level summit on migrants he convened at U.N. headquarters, Obama told the assembly of world leaders and foreign ministers that the problems they are seeing would only worsen in a warming world.
“If we don’t act boldly, the bill that could come due will be mass migrations, and cities submerged and nations displaced, and food supplies decimated, and conflicts born of despair,” he said.
The president, as he has in the past, pleaded for a “sense of urgency” from countries to help bring last year’s landmark Paris climate agreement into force this year. The United States ratified the deal with China early this month, and 31 more countries have done so today.
Obama also acknowledged the need for countries to do more than they promised in the French capital last year if the world is to avoid the worst impacts of warming.
“The Paris Agreement gives us a framework to act, but only if we scale up our ambition,” he said.
The president also alluded to what is likely to be a particular area of focus at a round of U.N. climate talks that opens in Marrakech, Morocco, in six weeks time: money. He said the $10 billion Green Climate Fund (GCF) to help poor nations address warming “should only be the beginning” of the wealthy world’s commitment.
“We need to invest in research and provide market incentives to develop new technologies, and then make these technologies accessible and affordable for poorer countries,” Obama said, adding that these investments would help developing countries “leapfrog” directly to lower-carbon solutions.
“And only then can we continue lifting all people up from poverty without condemning our children to a planet beyond their capacity to repair.”