Wildfires and heatwaves wreaking havoc across swathes of the globe show humanity facing “collective suicide”, the UN secretary general has warned, as governments around the world scramble to protect people from the impacts of extreme heat.
António Guterres told ministers from 40 countries meeting to discuss the climate crisis on Monday: “Half of humanity is in the danger zone, from floods, droughts, extreme storms and wildfires. No nation is immune. Yet we continue to feed our fossil fuel addiction.”
He added: “We have a choice. Collective action or collective suicide. It is in our hands.” Wildfires raged at the weekend across Europe and north America. In south America, the Macchu Picchu archaeological site was threatened by fire. Extreme heat has broken records around the world in recent months, as heatwaves have struck India and south Asia, droughts have devastated parts of Africa, and unprecedented heatwaves at both poles simultaneously astonished scientists in March.
In the UK, an extreme heat warning was issued with the hottest temperatures ever recorded in the UK expected on Monday and highs above 40C forecast in some places. Ministers meeting in Berlin for a two-day climate conference known as the Petersberg Climate Dialogue will discuss the extreme weather, as well as soaring prices for fossil fuels and food, and the impacts of the climate crisis.