The United Nations chief has called on world leaders to declare states of “climate emergency” in their countries to spur action to avoid “catastrophic” global warming.

Antonio Guterres’s comments on Saturday came during his opening statement to the Climate Ambition Summit, a virtual gathering aimed at building momentum for much steeper cuts in planet-warming emissions on the fifth anniversary of the 2015 Paris climate accord. More than 70 world leaders are due to address the one-day summit.

In Paris, five years ago, states promised to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) as much as possible, Guterres said via video-link. But he pointed out that the pledges made to meet that goal were insufficient, and in some cases were themselves being ignored.

The UN secretary-general warned that if the global community does not change course, the globe may be headed towards a “catastrophic” temperature increase of more than 3C (5.4F) this century.

“Can anybody still deny that we are facing a dramatic emergency,” Guterres asked. “That is why today, I call on all leaders worldwide to declare a State of Climate Emergency in their countries until carbon neutrality is reached.”

The state of emergency should remain in place until carbon neutrality is achieved, meaning that no more additional greenhouse gases are being pumped into the Earth’s atmosphere, Guterres said.

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