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Biggest Threat to Humanity? Climate Change, UN Chief Says

UNITED NATIONS — Nuclear weapons? Famine? Civil war? Nope.

The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, on Thursday called climate change “the most systemic threat to humankind” and urged world leaders to curb their countries’ greenhouse gas emissions.

He didn’t say much, though, about the one world leader who had pulled out of the landmark United Nations climate change agreement: President Trump.

Instead, Mr. Guterres suggested that Mr. Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris accord nearly a year ago didn’t matter much. The American people, he said, were doing plenty.

“Independently of the position of the administration, the U.S. might be able to meet the commitments made in Paris as a country,” the secretary general said. “And, as you know, all around the world, the role of governments is less and less relevant.”

That may be overly optimistic. Sixteen American states and Puerto Ricohave pledged to stick to the commitment that the United States made in the Paris agreement to reduce emissions by at least 26 percent by 2025. Those states are on track to keep their promise.