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Rising seas threaten exodus of ‘biblical’ scale, warns UN chief Antonio Guterres

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The UN Secretary-Basic warned Tuesday that international warming may pressure a mass exodus “on a biblical scale” as individuals flee low-lying communities and referred to as for authorized frameworks to be carried out in preparation, particularly for refugees.

“The hazard is very acute for almost 900 million individuals who stay in coastal zones at low elevations — that is one out of ten individuals on Earth,” Antonio Guterres informed the UN Safety Council.

“Low-lying communities and full international locations may disappear perpetually… We’d witness a mass exodus of complete populations on a biblical scale,” he stated.

It’s not solely small island states in danger as sea ranges rise, he added.

Nations resembling Bangladesh, China, India and the Netherlands are all at risk, Guterres stated, whereas “mega-cities on each continent will face critical impacts” — from Cairo to Jakarta to Los Angeles to Copenhagen.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Local weather Change (IPCC) says sea ranges rose by 15-25 centimeters (6-10 inches) between 1900 and 2018.

If the world warms by simply two levels Celsius (3.6 levels Fahrenheit) in comparison with the pre-industrial period, then these ranges will rise once more by 43 centimeters by the yr 2100.

But when it warms by three or 4 levels Celsius, sea ranges may rise by as a lot as 84 centimeters, the IPCC says.

The issue should be addressed “throughout authorized and human rights frameworks,” Guterres warned.

Rising sea ranges means shrinking land mass, he stated, which may drive attainable disputes over land and maritime house.

“The present authorized regime should look to the longer term and deal with any gaps in present frameworks,” together with in worldwide refugee regulation, he stated.

It should additionally present for the way forward for states that face shedding their land territory utterly.

Guterres stated the Safety Council has a “vital” position to play in addressing “the devastating safety challenges arising from rising seas.”

The problem has been controversial previously: In 2021, Russia vetoed a decision linking local weather change and international safety, which was supported by nearly all of the Council members.