UN secretary general António Guterres has warned governments around the world against the threat posed by climate change, stating that extreme weather events have put half of humanity in the danger zone.

The warning comes against the backdrop of countries across the world reeling under severe heatwaves. Some have been affected by droughts, while some are seeing extremely high temperatures.

"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," said the UN chief at a meeting of 40 countries held to discuss the climate crisis on Monday.

Guterres went to the extent of saying that the world is left with no option but to do something immediately. "We have a choice. Collective action or collective suicide. It is in our hands," he added.

He emphasised that the world needs to come together to avoid a climate catastrophe and said: "In facing this global crisis, we are failing to work together as a multilateral community."

"Nations continue to play the blame game instead of taking responsibility for our collective future. We cannot continue this way."

Wildfires have seared European countries like France, Greece, Portugal, and Spain, while countries like the UK have been setting new temperature records.

During the last three months, floods caused by monsoon rains have killed hundreds of people in countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan. At the same time, a prolonged drought has put East Africa on the brink of famine.

Thousands of hectares of land have been destroyed by the fires. Scientists have predicted more such episodes of extreme weather events if timely action is not taken, writes The Guardian.

Rising sea levels have forced communities to relocate, and protracted droughts have put more countries at risk of famine. The years between 2011–2020 has been the warmest decade on record.

Pollution, extreme weather events, droughts, and floods have already affected millions of people across the world. The number of "climate refugees" is only expected to rise if temperatures are not brought under control, according to a report by the United Nations.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, seen here in February 2020. Photo: AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI