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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern To Step Down By February 7th; Ukraine Investigating Helicopter Crash That Killed 14; France Workers Set To Protest Plans To Raise Retirement Age; China Prepping For Lunar Year Amid COVID Fears; Ukraine Investigating Helicopter Crash That Killed 14; U.N. Chief: Fossil Fuels 'Inconsistent with Human Survival'. Aired 12-12:45a ET

Aired January 19, 2023 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, I'm John Vause. Ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM.

Just as she upended mainstream politics when elected prime minister, five years on and Jacinda Ardern has again shocked New Zealand, announcing she's standing down.

Ukraine left reeling by the death of the interior minister in a chopper crash, the highest-ranking Ukrainian officials who have died since the war began.

And more dire warnings of a warming planet from record temperatures in Greenland to heating oceans. But is anyone listening?

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with John Vause.

VAUSE: She was the youngest woman ever elected as the head of government. The second to give birth whilst in office and in the past five years has faced a series of unprecedented challenges.

A short time ago, Jacinda Ardern announced she will be stepping down as New Zealand's Prime Minister within three weeks.

Speaking at a Labour Party retreat in Napier on the North Island, Ardern choked up as she described how her time in office had taken a toll and left her exhausted. She also announced a general election for October.


JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: This summer I had hoped to find a way to prepare not just for another year, but another two, because that is what this year requires. I have not been able to do that.

And so today, I'm announcing that I will not be seeking reelection. And then my term as prime minister will conclude no later than the seventh of February.


VAUSE: Ardern won praise around the world for her handling of the COVID pandemic for a personal style of speaking from the heart, especially during moments of crisis, like the mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch in 2019.

Within weeks, Ardern and her Labour government passed new gun laws banning semi-automatic weapons.

While her popularity grew around the world in recent months, the slowing economy and housing crisis and inflation has seen her approval ratings fall at home.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout live now from Hong Kong with more. So, her last day as prime minister just a few weeks away now, but you know, why? And what's been the reaction?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): You know, this was a bombshell announcement and it came as a surprise to many people inside New Zealand and all around the world.

Earlier today at this press conference in Napier, we heard from the Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern. As she said she doesn't have the energy to seek reelection in October. She said that in the last 5-1/2 years, she's been serving as prime minister in New Zealand. It has -- you know, she has given her absolute all and it has taken a lot from her. She added that she will stand down as a leader of her country in early February. And she also had this to say, take a listen.


ARDERN: I'm entering now my sixth year in office. And for each of these years, I have given my absolute all. I believe that leading a country is the most privileged job anyone could ever have. But also one of the more challenging, you cannot and should not do it unless you have a full tank. Plus, a bit in reserve for those unexpected challenges.


STOUT: Ardern noted that she is not leaving the job because the job was hard. And she went on to list the number of just, wow, once in a generation crises that she and her government had to deal with in the last 5-1/2 years including the COVID-19 pandemic, including the deadly volcanic eruption in Whakaari Island.

Including, of course, the horrific 2019 Christchurch terror attacks, when a far-right terrorist targeted two mosques in the city, taking the lives of 51 people and she responded with empathy and decisive action.

We've been monitoring international reaction to this announcement and we also -- we heard this via tweet from the Prime Minister of Australia. Let's bring it up for you, saying this "Jacinda Ardern has shown the world how to lead with intellect and strength. She has demonstrated that empathy and insight are powerful leadership qualities. Jacinda has been a fierce advocate for New Zealand and an inspiration to so many and a great friend to me."

Now, on the international stage, Jacinda Ardern has been heralded for her progressive politics. At home, domestically inside New Zealand, she has been dealing with a number of political headwinds, including voters just focusing on rising prices, inflation, the cost of property rising, crime, etcetera. But she will be standing down as leader of her country on February the seventh.

As for her next plans professionally, she says no plans but personally she does. In fact in her address announcement earlier today, she said she's looking forward to being there for her 4-year-old daughter when she sets off to school later this year. And to in her words, finally, marry her partner. Back to you.


VAUSE: Yes, she said that if she was going to leave because the job was hard, she would have left in the first two months, which I thought was a great quote.

Kristie, thank you. Kristie Lu Stout there live for us in Hong Kong.

Well, for more we're joined now by Bryce Edwards, Political Scientists at Victoria University of Wellington.

Bryce, thanks for being with us. You know, one of the first questions we had here when the story first broke was, well, what's the real reason? You know, what's really going on here? And Ardern spoke specifically to that question a short time ago, I want you to listen to this, here she is.


ARDERN: I know, there will be much discussion in the aftermath of this decision as to what the so-called real reason was, I can tell you that what I'm sharing today is it. The only interesting angle that you will find is that after going on six years of some big challenges, I am human, politicians are human, we give all that we can for as long as we can. And then it's time and for me --


VAUSE: So, is it possible that Ardern has the ability that most politicians lack and that's knowing when it's time to go?

BRYCE EDWARDS, POLITICAL SCIENTISTS, VICTORIA UNIVERSITY OF WELLINGTON: I think that's it. A good leader knows when to go is what she said today. And we've got a precedent for this. One of the previous Prime Ministers, John Key left after about six years in power as well. And he left when he was still very popular.

So, I think the real reason Ardern is going is that she's lost popularity. So, the opinion polls here have really plummeted for her government and for her personally.

So, you know, yes, after that COVID crisis, she won 50 percent of the vote, which was an historic high, but in recent months, her support has gone down to about 32 percent.

So, about a third of her support is gone, and it's going to be a very tough election for her government when we've got an Election Day coming up in October.

And I think she knew that it was very unlikely she'd be able to win that, so she's gone now. Better to go now then to be turfed out by voters I think.

VAUSE: Go out on a higher I guess. But you know, the last few months have been politically bruising for Ardern and her Labour government.

The actor in New Zealand, Sam Neill tweeted this, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern resigned today. I'm not surprised, nor do I blame her. Her treatment, the pile on in the last few months has been disgraceful and embarrassing. All the bullies, misogynist. They agreed she deserved so much better. A great leader, the aggrieved. She deserved so much better. A great leader! Thanks PM.

So, would you say the political fighting has been especially vicious in recent months? Or is it just sort of normal rough and tumble? There was this (INAUDIBLE) the last straw.

EDWARDS: Things have become more polarized. I mean, it's a lot like America at the moment. Things got very divided. And that's sort of an outcome I think of COVID. And the fact that, yes, there's been a big increase in inequality, lots of social divisions. And a lot of people blame the prime minister for this.

But I don't know, there hasn't been anything major. We had a big parliamentary protest earlier in last year, where -- yes, they were noose ropes and sort of people wanting to put the prime minister on trial, and all sorts of things like that.

But that's dissipated in more recent months. But nonetheless, those opinion polls are pretty hard for any prime minister to deal with.

VAUSE: New Zealand Prime Ministers have dealt with the current challenges that Ardern has faced, in particular the 2019 mass shootings at two mosques. And I remember she was very quick to tweet this. What has happened in Christchurch is an extraordinary act of unprecedented violence. It has no place in New Zealand, many of those affected will be members of our migrant communities. New Zealand is their home, they are us.

You know, her words were in such stark contrast to what we were hearing in the United States at the time and other countries. And she also had this sort of very common touch to the pandemic crisis, nighttime chats on Facebook from her bedroom.

You know, this is a leadership style cannot be replicated. Is this what New Zealand does now expect? Or is this just sort of a one off unique thing from a unique Prime minister?

EDWARDS: Yes. So, you have to remember that Ardern came to power in 2017, just really a few months after Donald Trump came to power. And so, around the world, I think there was huge interest in just Jacindra Ardern as sort of the anti-Trump or the antidote to Trump. And her communication style has been very down to earth. I think it has worked.

Of course, she did a degree in communications. So, you know, that is her expertise, but she certainly has raised the bar very high for politicians needing to emote and show their emotions and be able to connect with people. And I don't think there's anyone in her current government that will be able to step into those shoes.

VAUSE: Love her or hate her, it should be a hard act to follow. Bryce, thank you very much.

EDWARDS: Thanks.


VAUSE: Well, Ukraine has launched an investigation into the helicopter crash in a Kyiv suburb that killed 14 people, including the country's interior minister, and a child. The helicopter went down in low visibility in a residential neighborhood on Wednesday, while the two dozen people were injured, including 11 children.

Investigators say they're considering a number of causes including technical malfunction. At this point, there does not seem to be any indication the helicopter was shot down.

Ukraine's interior minister and five other officials were on board the aircraft traveling to the Kharkiv region.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaking at the World Economic Forum by video link called their deaths a great loss.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: And I shall ask you to honor the memory of every person Ukraine has lost with a minute of silence.


VAUSE: He went on to blame Russia for the tragedies saying every death is the result of war. He also urged world leaders to speed up the delivery of tanks, air defense systems and other weapons to Ukraine.


ZELENSKYY: The time the free world uses to think is used by the terrorist state to kill. The supply of Ukraine with air defense systems must outpace Russia's next missile attacks. The supplies or Western tanks must outpace another invasion of Russian tanks.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Ukraine's first lady is in Davos, Switzerland was brought to tears on word of the tragedy. She said it's the biggest tragedy is the death of the children.

The mayor of Brovary has declared three days of mourning for the victims.

CNN's Clarissa Ward reports from the site of the crash.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A quiet Kyiv suburb turned into an inferno. The sounds of screaming can be heard.

Minutes after a helicopter crashed outside an apartment building just steps away from a kindergarten.

On board the leadership of Ukraine's interior ministry, including the minister himself, Denys Monastyrsky and his deputy Yevgeny Enin.

The chopper was bound for the city of Kharkiv when it lost control smashing into the kindergarten as it descended. One child was killed.

Rescue Services work to clear the smoldering wreckage and search for survivors. Its neighbors looked out at the scene of horror.

Allah (PH) tells us she ran outside as soon as she heard the explosion. We saw only injured children who were on fire. Sorry, she says. They were crying and running out from the school.

Ukrainian security services have opened an investigation into the crash. For now, there is no suggestion that foul play was involved. There was heavy fog in the morning.

But President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said every death is the result of war even when it is far from the front lines.

The wife of Deputy Minister Yenin sobbed in shock as she took in the scene. Another tragedy in a nation that has borne witness to so much horror.

As day light faded, emergency services declare the end of the search and rescue. And the bodies were taken away.


VAUSE: With us now from New Haven, Connecticut is Matthew Schmidt, Professor of National Security Political Science at the University of New Haven. Thanks for being with us, Matthew.


VAUSE: So, clearly, this helicopter crash it's a devastating blow to Ukraine, and especially President Zelenskyy. Here he is with more on the lives lost, listen to this.


ZELENSKYY (through translator): We've lost people who are professionals, patriots and reliable leaders. Minister Denys Monastyrsky, Yevgeny Enin and their colleagues who died in the crash are not people who can be easily replaced.


VAUSE: Monastyrsky was a member of Zelenskyy's party who was elected to parliament the same time Zelenskyy became president. He served as an interior minister since before the war began.

You know, these men had a unique relationship between forged during wartime. That seemed almost impossible to replace.

SCHMIDT: Yes, Monastyrsky was also a fellow comic actor, they met doing improv. But you know, when they were much younger before they got into politics.

So, this isn't just someone who is a professional, someone who is competent at what he's doing. This is a friend that the president in wartime Ukraine trusts, and he's lost that.

And I think we have to focus on that a little bit because it's hard to find people in these kinds of situations that you can really open up to, and I think -- I think, you know, Zelenskyy is going to be grieving for a while.

VAUSE: Why would the entire leadership of a crucial wartime ministry be traveling in the same chopper at the same time?

SCHMIDT: John, that's a good question. I mean, I think we have to give the Ukrainians the benefit of the doubt. They're not, you know, rolling in helicopters. And so, they have to make do with what they have.


But I think going forward, they're going to have to be much more careful about, you know, change of regime or, you know, continuity of regime kind of plans and not put everybody in one vehicle.

VAUSE: Yes, it seems the bad news keeps coming for Ukraine, even though the U.S. is set to finalize a massive security aid package for Ukraine, including Stryker combat vehicles for the first time.

This $2.5 billion package will not include tanks, or long range missiles, which the Ukrainians have been asking for.

We also heard from the German chancellor, who was speaking at Davos on military aid to Ukraine, here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OLAF SCHOLZ, GERMAN CHANCELLOR: Russia's aggression must fail. That is why we are continuously supplying Ukraine with large quantities of arms, in close consultation with our partners.


VAUSE: But again, no tanks in particular, no Leopard tanks from Germany and no permission from Berlin for other European nations to send their Leopard tanks either. So, why the reluctance from the Germans?

SCHMIDT: The Germans are reluctant to allow their equipment, their heavy equipment, like tanks to go to Ukraine, because it's basically a violation of post war foreign policy since 1945. Right?

This is a country that has looks at its own past, and is very careful about using its military mind in any way that might, you know, might come back to hurt it or to hurt, you know, its reputation. And so, that's really what's going on here.

But the Ukrainians, you know, they're asking for tanks, they need tanks, but they're also I think, underplaying what they can do with strikers and with armored vehicles. You don't need tanks to kill tanks, you need anti-tank weapons, but you can mount on other vehicles to kill Russian tanks.

And in the end, this isn't really about a tank on tank war. It's about giving the Ukrainians armored maneuver capability to get past Russian tanks into the rear to attack Russian supplies and things deeper there in this kind of offensive that we all expect.

VAUSE: Yes. And with that in mind, do we know if they had the equipment? Is the assessment out there right now they have what they need at this point to launch that offensive on the Russian forces before the Russians launch their spring offensive on Ukraine?

SCHMIDT: I don't think we know that. I think the answer is it's close. But what tipped you over is the training.

And so, we know that there are battalion level units that are being trained in Germany or possibly elsewhere, that are flowing back into theater in Ukraine. And it's the size of those units and their ability to do combined arms with things like tanks or other armored vehicles, infantry, artillery, and whatever air that they can muster. It's how they -- how they tie all that together, that really is going to determine their ability to move on the offense right now, more than any one particular aspect, whether it's tanks or planes or artillery, it's about how well they're trained. And that takes time and we'll see what happens in the next I'd say 30 to 60 days.

VAUSE: Yes, it's about to get real. Matthew Schmidt, thanks so much for being with us, sir.

SCHMIDT: My pleasure.

VAUSE: A short break, when we come back, France bracing for transportation delays, school closures, and more scenes like this as thousands, possibly even millions of workers prepare to go on strike.

Also ahead, what could possibly go wrong? China preparing for the biggest holiday of the year, the largest human migration on Earth in the midst of a troubling wave of COVID-19. More on that in a moment.



VAUSE: Anti-government protests are expected to resume on the streets of Peru's capital Thursday. A wave of deadly protests have paralyzed the country for weeks now. We have more details from Stefano Pozzebon.


STEFANO POZZEBON, REPORTER (on camera): Late on Wednesday night, the Peruvian Ombudsman's Office updated to 51 the total number of deaths in the wave of protests that is sweeping across the nation since the ousting of former President Pedro Castillo last month.

One person died on Wednesday in protests in Viru province in rural Peru. This occurred as thousands of people are traveling towards the capital, Lima for a nationwide rally against the current President Dina Boluarte scheduled for Thursday.

Among their demands is the resignation of Boluarte and a fresh round of election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Well, as I said, there are several urgent needs. But right now the political situation merits a change of representatives of government of the executive and the legislature. That is the immediate thing, because there are other deeper issues, inflation, lack of employment, poverty, malnutrition and other historical issues that have not been and addressed.

POZZEBON: Boluarte has called for any protests to be peaceful but has so far resisted calls for her resignation, saying that she intends to fulfill her mandate until the next round of election is scheduled next year.

For CNN. This is Stefano Pozzebon, Bogota.


VAUSE: Thousands of nurses in England began a 40 hour strike on Wednesday over low pay, which they say has not kept up with inflation now 10-1/2 percent.

Many much to the Prime Minister's Office carrying signs reading Rishi Sunak wake up. The government says the increased salaries being demanded are unaffordable. Royal College of Nursing Union says its members will also stop working for two days early next month if there's no progress in pay discussions over the next two weeks.

Major strikes also living in France over plans to raise the government retirement age by two years. Workers in eight of France's largest unions are expected to skip work in the coming hours. And the government has already warned public transportation will be hellish.

CNN's Melissa Bell reports now from Paris.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For 28 years Enrique Moreira has carried the same equipment to work. But on Thursday, he'll take to the streets in protest over the two extra years the government wants him to spend working for his pension.

ENRIQUE MOREIRA, CONSTRUCTION WORKER (through translator): Living is getting more expensive, retirement further away. It's ridiculous, I can't go on. That's why we have to take to the streets. And that's what we'll do on Thursday.

BELL: French President Emmanuel Macron has unsuccessfully tried pension reform before. In 2020, he backed down in the face of street protests and the COVID pandemic. 2023 he says will be different.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): This year will be the year of pension reform, which aims to guarantee the balance in our system for the coming years and decades. We need to work more.

BELL: Currently the French can retire at 62 or even earlier in some cases, with a minimum monthly government pension of around a thousand euros.

Earlier this month, the French Prime Minister announced plans to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 with the full pension raised by an average of a hundred euros a month.

STEPHANIE RIST, GOVERNMENT MP (through translator): If we don't pass this reform, the books will not be balanced, which means that we will have to lower the pensions of retirees or increase the contributions of working people, thus reducing the purchasing power of the French.

BELL: Pension reform has been derailed in the past in 1995 under then President Jacques Chirac. It also faced stiff resistance under Macron's two predecessors.

FRANCOIS HOMMERIL, PRESIDENT, CFE-CGC UNION (through translator): It's true that there is a strong symbolic value for the social model put in place after World War II. The political forces from the far left to the right came together to govern France, and they created this model. It's our heritage, our wealth, and the French are incredibly attached to it.

BELL: The hope of the unions on Thursday that the protests will be as big as they were in 2010 when they claim more than three million people took to the streets of France.

Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


[00:25:07] VAUSE: Rare public expression of concern by China's President ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday. Xi Jinping said he's worried that COVID virus could spread to rural areas with already poor medical facilities as millions prepare to leave the big cities and head home.

CNN's Ivan Watson has details.


IVAN WATSON, CNN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A population on the move.

After three years of restrictions due to their government's war on COVID, Chinese can finally travel again just in time for the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday.

In pre-pandemic times, this was described as the world's largest annual human migration.

I haven't been home in three years says this man at the main Beijing train station. Millions of Chinese people are traveling as COVID-19 spreads out of control.

Chinese officials say COVID infections have passed their peak in many parts of the country. But there are clearly still concerns about the scale of the outbreak.

For example, here in Hong Kong, authorities require all of these travelers arriving on high speed trains from mainland China to get negative COVID tests first, before they can cross the border.

Last month, Beijing abruptly scrapped its strict zero COVID policy, the ensuing surge of sick people putting a strain on hospitals and health workers.

Several social media videos showed nurses sick with COVID collapsing on the job.

I felt unwell says this nurse in Shandong. It had been a week that I had COVID-19 until that day when I finally collapsed.

Over the weekend, health officials who once prided themselves on keeping COVID out of China abruptly raised the COVID death toll since early December from several dozen COVID deaths to nearly 60,000 people killed by COVID.

But the Official U-turn on COVID has had other unintended consequences.

At a factory in Chongqing workers pelted police with what appeared to be boxes of COVID tests, some biotech companies, withholding salaries or laying off workers after the government suddenly stopped demanding the population take millions of COVID tests a day.

GEORGE MAGNUS, RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD CHINA CENTER: The implementation of zero COVID and the abrupt and unprepared manner in which it was abandoned. I mean, speaks to a chronic governance failure.

WATSON: One of China's richest provinces Guangdong spent around $22 billion over three years on pandemic prevention.

MAGNUS: A lot of these local governments are highly indebted. They've got big cash flow problems. This is a big problem that the central government and local governments will have to sort out in this coming decade, but COVID just kind of made it worse really.

WATSON: For now, uncertainty over public health and government finances has done little to dampen a palpable sense of excitement.

Understandable as Chinese emerged from pandemic lockdown to celebrate the year of the rabbit, biggest holiday of the year.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.


VAUSE: Still to come here on CNN, more on the investigation into Wednesday's deadly helicopter crash in Ukraine, including how parents, teachers, even children tried to help the wounded.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has ordered an investigation into Wednesday's helicopter crash, which claimed the life of his interior minister and 13 others.

The chopper went down not far from a kindergarten and residential block just outside the capital of Kyiv. More than two dozen people were injured, including 11 children.

Hours later, while addressing the World Economic Forum in Davos via video link, Zelenskyy asked for a moment of silence. And he said every death is the result of war, and called on Western nations to speed up the delivery of tanks and air defense systems.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: The world was hesitant in 2014 when Russian, without hesitation, occupied the Crimea. The world was hesitant in 2022 when Russia, without hesitation, made the war full-scale. The world must not hesitate today and ever.


VAUSE: Three days of national mourning have now been declared for what appears to be a wartime accident, which has left the country stunned. CNN's Fred Pleitgen has details.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Widespread destruction after the helicopter for Ukraine's interior minister crashed near Kyiv, an eyewitness describing the scene to me.

"I saw a helicopter that was flying towards the kindergarten," he says. "It landed almost vertically. I saw an explosion. I came down to help clear the debris."

He also shot this video of the immediate aftermath.

PLEITGEN: The chopper crash at the foot of this residential building. As you can see, there's lots of parts strewn around everywhere. It completely burned out, killing everyone inside, and several people on the ground.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Among the dead, Ukraine's interior minister, Denys Monastyrsky, his deputy Yevhen Yyenin, and state secretary Yurii Lubkovych.

The deputy minister's wife in tears as she reached the scene. Especially tragic, a child was also among several people killed on the ground as the aircraft hit a kindergarten, just as parents were dropping their kids off. Two boys describe how they tried to help.

"Here, they passed injured children over the fence," this boy says. "Mostly, they had bruises and scratches. Paul (ph) put bandages on them, wrote down their names and surnames and found their parents."

The chopper, a Eurocopter Super Puma. Ukrainian authorities have launched an investigation into the possible causes of the crash.

YURII IHNAT, UKRAINIAN AIR FORCES SPOKESPERSON (through translator): Various factors, radio communications, and the technical condition of the helicopter needs to be examined. This will take at least several weeks.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Denis Monastyrsky was one of Ukraine's most important officials. We traveled with him to the Chernobyl nuclear plant shortly after Russian forces withdrew from there.

Monastyrsky frequently visited the front lines to help boost morale.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They have such a strong fighting spirit and are ready for any scenario. We heard the shells exploding, but no one is afraid, because everyone is ready.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Ukrainian forces are currently facing a major Russian onslaught in the Eastern part of the country, near Bakhmut and Soledar. And dozens were killed when a massive Russian missile hit a residential building in Dnipro.

And now, Ukraine is also mourning the loss of more than a dozen people, including some of the country's top officials.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Brovary, Ukraine.


VAUSE: The U.N. secretary-general, now calling out big oil for knowing decades ago about the impact of burning fossil fuels but ignore their own science in favor of greater profits. Those details just ahead here.

You're watching CNN.



VAUSE: In the coming hours, that Italian Mafia boss, Matteo Messina Denaro, is expected make his first court experience after his arrests Monday.

Italy's most wanted man was finally caught, checking into a private health clinic, for treatment of his prostate.

Denaro received multiple life sentences in absentia, including for his role in the killing of two anti-Mafia prosecutors in 1992. They'll be the focus of Thursday's hearing.

He's said to have ordered dozens of Mafia-related murders. Police say he's now being held in a secret location.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has even more gloom than usual, when speaking about climate change, this time at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

He pulled no punches, painting the fossil-fuel industry as the primary culprit behind global warming. Guterres pointedly accused energy companies of denying their own science on climate change and choosing to increase production instead. Here he is.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: We are flirting with climate disaster. Every week brings a new climate horror story. Greenhouse gas emissions are at record levels and growing. The commitment to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees is nearly going up in smoke.


VAUSE: Professor John Abraham joins us now. He's a climate scientist at the University of St. Thomas in Semple, Minnesota.

Thank you for being with us.


VAUSE: OK. Now, we just heard yet another dire warning coming from the U.N. secretary-general, this time speaking at Davos. He went on to call out big oil for decades of being, well, less than honest. Here he is.


GUTERRES: Some in big oil battled the big lie. And like the tobacco industry, those responsible must be held to account.

Today, fossil fuel producers and their enablers are still racing to expand production, knowing full well that this business model is inconsistent with human survival.


VAUSE: Well, smoke them if you've got them, Antonio, because Greenpeace makes this observation about the forum from which this warning and accusation comes from: "Often traveling very short distances, over 1,000 private jets flew in and out of airports serving Davos during the week of the 2022 World Economic Forum, causing CO2 emissions four times greater than an average week, equivalent to 350,000 cars."

And that was at the forum last year.

So would the warnings and the accusations from Antonio Gutierrez and others, which are valid, carry a little bit more moral authority if he wasn't making them at a Swiss ski resort where the uber wealthy had gathered, many of whom traveled by private jet to get there.

ABRAHAM: Well, that's a good point. Look, people who are concerned about the climate need to walk the walk and talk the talk, as we like to say in Minnesota, the United States here.


It is hard to garner support, to take action on climate change, when some people see what is potentially hypocrisy. So yes, it's a concern, but at the end of the day, look, the climate is changing. We've got a real problem. It's costing us a lot in dollars and lives.

And so we've got to get moving on taken action, regardless of whether people are flying to Davos, or taking a sailboat.

VAUSE: Yes. You're right. And in 2023, it's set to be a banner year for the oil industry. The outlook from the International Energy Agency, global oil demand set to rise by almost 2 million barrels a day, to a record total of almost 102 million barrels a day.

Nearly half of the gain from China, after lifting COVID restrictions.

And this report notes that jet fuel remains the largest source of growth, 840,000 barrels per day, as expected.

Now, it seems there's an obvious and pretty direct link here. More oil consumption equals more carbon emissions. More carbon emissions means a warmer planet.

But this says in very stark terms, we are heading in a wrong direction, and we're heading in that direction very quickly.

ABRAHAM: Yes, that's right. I mean, the clock is ticking on our time window to take action on climate change.

In fact, we've waited so long that we no longer can stop climate change, but we can do things today to make it less severe. Climate change right now is costing countries all around the world a lot of money, infrastructure losses, crop losses, flooding, droughts, larger storms.

And we really need to get all on the same page to take action about it, because it's going to be very expensive to fix. We can't stop it, but we can make it less bad, and that's the message that we should have as our take-home message.

VAUSE: And all those emissions from private jets, and other oil consumption, seems to be part of the reason why temperatures on Greenland haven't been this warm in at least 1,000 years, according to scientists. So how do they know that? And what does actually mean for the rest of the planet?

ABRAHAM: Well, look, we know the climate is -- humans are involved, and scientists all around the world are taking measurements to assess how fast the climate is changing.

There's a recent study out that you just mentioned, related to Greenland. Now, Greenland has a thick sheet of ice on top of it. It's one of the biggest ice sheets on the planet.

And these scientists dug down into the ice, and they took -- they extracted some ice. It's called an ice core.

And when you take the ice out of the ice sheet and take it back to your laboratory, you're able to tell what the atmosphere looked like in the past, what the temperatures were like, and you are able to also figure out how long back in time the atmosphere and temperatures existed, sort of like the rings on a tree. If you cut a tree open you count the rings back in time. We can do that with ice course.

So these scientists use ice cores to measure temperature, and the information that they got from Greenland is, as you said, pretty dire. It's as warm as it's been, or warmer that it's been in over 1,000 years, and that should give us all pause.

VAUSE: You have the sea level rise, just for starters, is something to worry about. But professor --

ABRAHAM: If I can actually add on that, if Greenland melts, we are going to have 7 to 8 meters of sea level rise. Now, in the U.S., we don't do meters, so in feet, it's about 24 feet.

But if the Greenland ice sheet melts, and it's already started to melt, it is going to be devastating, so this is really dire news.

VAUSE: Yes. And something which, if people aren't paying attention before, they should be paying attention now. Professor, thanks so much for being with us. We appreciate it.

ABRAHAM: Pleasure to be on.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Back at the top of the hour with more CNN NEWSROOM, but first, WORLD SPORT starts after a short break. See you back here in 16 minutes.