UN's Guterres says G20 must do more on climate, address mistrust

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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City
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ROME (Reuters) - United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned on Friday that the world was rushing headlong towards climate disaster, and said leaders of the Group of 20 wealthy nations must do more to help poorer countries.

Speaking on the eve of a summit of G20 leaders, Guterres told reporters there were "dangerous levels of mistrust" between nations and said he hoped the forthcoming two-day meeting would help overcome that.

Guterres urged the G20 to funnel more funds to impoverished countries, including via debt relief, and boost their access to COVID-19 vaccinations. He added that the economic recovery from the pandemic was amplifying inequalities.

"This is immoral," he said.

He also called on rich economies to make good on a longstanding commitment to provide $100 billion a year to help the developing world tackle the growing threat posed by climate change.

"Unfortunately, the message to developing countries is essentially this, the cheque is in the mail. On all our climate goals, we have miles to go. And we must pick up the pace," Guterres said.

Many of the leaders coming to Rome, including U.S. President Joe Biden, will fly immediately afterwards to Scotland for the United Nation's climate summit https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/sticking-points-un-climate-conference-2021-10-18, known as COP26, which is seen as vital to tackling the threat of rising temperatures.

Guterres said revised climate pledges from some G20 nations did not inspire confidence.

"Even if recent pledges were clear and credible, and there are serious questions about some of them, we are still careening towards climate catastrophe," he said.

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer, editing by Gavin Jones)

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