UN chief warns unchecked climate change will mean 'survival of the richest'

UN chief warns unchecked climate change will mean 'survival of the richest'
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The head of the United Nations warned Thursday that unchecked climate change will lead to “survival of the richest.”

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres made the remarks at the U.N. climate talks in Madrid, where representatives from more than 200 countries have gathered to develop plans for combating climate change. But negotiators have reached an impasse on key issues, The Associated Press reported.

Guterres asked countries to focus on the economic opportunities instead of the risks of eliminating fossil fuels by 2050 to stop global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius this century.

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“This transition needs to be done to benefit everybody,” Guterres said, according to the AP. “And not doing this transition will only allow, as I said, the survival of the richest.”

Former Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes Kerry18 progressive groups sign unity pledge amid Sanders-Warren feud Mellman: Democrats — Buckle up for a wild ride Sanders hits highest support since August MORE told the AP that the “absence of leadership” by the U.S. was a setback in the climate talks, adding that he thought officials were just waiting to see what happens in the 2020 election.

“It’s very difficult to get this done if the United States of America isn’t there,” he said. “There will be accomplishments, there’ll be some forward progress, but really, everyone knows that the crunch is going to come next year with the raising ambition issue."

The Trump administration has taken steps to withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 Paris climate deal the day after the 2020 election. The international accord aims to limit the rise of global temperatures in the coming decades.