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UN Secretary-General: 'Climate is becoming an electoral issue'

Aarthi Swaminathan
Finance Writer

The United Nations (UN) is intending to push countries to act on climate change, and believes that the global sentiment is ripe for states to further commitments.

“We see a lot of movement,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told reporters at a press conference on Friday. “We see climate is becoming an electoral issue much more than in the past. If you look at European elections, one year ago it would be centrally around immigration. The last European parliament elections were much more centered on climate.”

Over the summer in Europe, voters have clearly spelled out to the politicians that climate change is an issue they want politicians to deal with.

Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres speaks to the press at United Nations headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York, New York, U.S., September 18, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

In Germany, the Green Party saw support rise during elections in May, and won more seats. And in FranceIreland and the UK.

Fast forward to Friday: Thousands of Americans — from workers to children — went on strike to protest climate change. The protest was part of a global appeal for action.

And on Monday, officials from multiple countries are expected to take the stage to talk about their plans to address climate change. The UN General Assembly takes place this week in New York City.

‘To make as much noise as possible’

The meeting is noteworthy for two reasons. One, because it comes after the 2015 Paris climate accord, which aims to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius compared with preindustrial levels and within 1.5 degrees. And two, because the U.S. is not attending.

U.S. President Donald Trump has rolled back several environmental regulations and is planning to skip the UN’s climate change meeting, instead arranging a religious freedom summit.

People take part in a demonstration for the climate called 'Act Now or Never' to raise awareness for climate change, organised by 'Rise for Climate Belgium', in on September 22, 2019 in Brussels. (Photo: HATIM KAGHAT / Belga / AFP) / Belgium OUT

But despite the U.S. skipping the meeting, Guterres believed that there was an “impressive” number of countries who were in support of addressing the climate crisis.

“My main objective is to make as much noise as I can and do as much as I can to support as many actors involved,” Guterres added.

Trump has also signaled his intent to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris accord back in 2017. In particular, he criticized the fact that while the treaty affected U.S. fossil fuel production, especially coal, other countries like China and India are allowed a free pass.

“This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States,” Trump said in June 2017.

Aarthi is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @aarthiswami.

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