Scientists are now worried that unless accelerated action is taken by 2020, the Paris goal may become unattainable, UN Secretary-General António Guterres told reporters at the UN's New York Headquarters.
The Paris Climate Change Agreement, adopted by countries in December 2015, aims to keep global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further, to 1.5 degrees.
"I am beginning to wonder how many more alarm bells must go off before the world rises to the challenge," Mr. Guterres said on 29 March, noting that 2017 was filled with "climate chaos" and "2018 has already brought more of the same."
UN Climate Change is assisting countries and chairs of specific negotiating forums under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to plan their work and map out the year.
UN Climate Change is calling on cities, regions, businesses, investors and governments in 2018 to engage in the Talanoa Dialogue to catalyze the climate action that the UN Secretary-General emphasized as crucial.
"Climate change is still moving much faster than we are," he warned, calling the phenomenon "the greatest threat facing humankind."
Recent information from the World Meteorological Organization, the World Bank and the International Energy Agency shows the relentless pace of climate change.
For instance, the UN chief noted, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.4 per cent, to a historic high of 32.5 gigatonnes in 2017.
Moreover, weather-related disasters caused some USD 320 billion in economic damage in 2017, making the year the costliest ever for such losses.
In social and economic terms, the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was devastating, washing away decades of development in an instant, according to the World Bank.
In South Asia, major monsoon floods affected 41 million people in 2017, while severe drought drove nearly 900,000 people from their homes in Africa.
Wildfires caused destruction across the world. Arctic sea ice cover in winter is at its lowest level, and the oceans are warmer and more acidic than at any time in recorded history, according to the WMO.
"This tsunami of data should create a storm of concern," Mr. Guterres said, noting that next year he will "convene a climate summit in New York aimed at boosting global ambition to meet the level of the climate challenge."
"The Stone Age did not end because the world ran out of stones. It ended because there were better alternatives. The same applies today to fossil fuels," he said, stressing the need for a global transition to a low-carbon economy.
Responding to a question about the United States' decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement, Mr. Guterres said he received information from his Special Envoy on climate change and former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, that there are expectations that the US - independently of the position of its Administration - might be able to meet the commitments made in Paris as a country due to the positive reactions of the American business community and local authorities.
"The role of the economy, the role of the society is more and more relevant," he said.