Climate Solidarity Pact – or a Collective Suicide Pact,” the UN Secretary-General told over 100 world leaders reunited for the first official plenary of the UN Climate Change Conference.
The proposed Pact would see all countries taking extra efforts to reduce emissions, wealthier nations and international financial institutions providing assistance to emerging economies, ending dependence on fossil fuels and the building of coals plants, providing sustainable energy for all, and uniting to combine strategy and capacities for the benefit of humankind.
The two largest economies – the United States and China – have a particular responsibility to join efforts to make this Pact a reality. This is our only hope of meeting our climate goals,” he emphasized.
Mr. Guterres said that soon the 8 billionth member of the human family will be born, and that milestone puts into perspective what COP27 is all about.
“How will we answer when ‘Baby 8 Billion’ is old enough to ask: What did you do for our world – and for our planet – when you had the chance?”.
Reminding the room that the clock was ticking with the planet fast approaching tipping points that can make “climate chaos” irreversible, the UN chief said that “we are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator”.
He added that while the war in Ukraine and other conflicts have caused so much bloodshed and violence and have had dramatic worldwide impacts, the UN cannot accept that attention is not also focused on climate change.
“It is the defining issue of our age. It is the central challenge of our century. It is unacceptable, outrageous and self-defeating to put it on the back burner,” he underscored.
The Secretary-General explained that many of today’s conflicts are linked to “growing climate chaos”.
“The war in Ukraine has exposed the profound risks of our fossil fuel addiction. Today’s urgent crises cannot be an excuse for backsliding or greenwashing. If anything, they are a reason for greater urgency, stronger action and effective accountability,” he said.
António Guterres asked governments to tax the pandemic-driven windfall profits of fossil fuel companies and redirect the money to people struggling with rising food and energy prices and countries suffering loss and damage caused by the climate crisis.
The deadly impacts of climate change are here and now. Loss and damage can no longer be swept under the rug. It is a moral imperative. It is a fundamental question of international solidarity – and climate justice. Those who contributed least to the climate crisis are reaping the whirlwind sown by others,” he underscored, adding that during COP27 leaders must agree on a clear, time-bound roadmap reflective of the scale and urgency of the challenge.
For Mr. Guterres, getting concrete results on loss and damage is a “litmus test” of the commitment of governments to the success of COP27.
The UN chief also made a call for progress on adaptation and building resilience to future climate disruption, noting that three-and-a-half billion people live in countries highly vulnerable to climate impacts.
This would mean countries delivering the promise made in last year of $40 billion in adaptation support by 2025.
“We need a roadmap on how this will be delivered. And we must recognize that this is only a first step. Adaptation needs are set to grow to more than $300 billion dollars a year by 2030,” he warned.
He also pointed out the need of international financial institutions and banks to change their business model and do their part.
The UN Secretary-General urged countries to come together for implementation saying it was time for international solidarity across the board.
“Solidarity that respects all human rights and guarantees a safe space for environmental defenders and all actors in society to contribute to our climate response. Let’s not forget that the war on nature is in itself a massive violation of human rights.”
Mr. Guterres underscored that the global climate fight will be won or lost in this crucial decade and on the watch of current world leaders.
“One thing is certain: those that give up are sure to lose. So, let’s fight together– and let’s win. For the 8 billion members of our human family – and for generations to come,” he concluded.
The emotion was palpable in the main plenary room of the Tonino Lamborghini International Convention Centre, as discussions opened on the first day of what is traditionally called the World Leaders Summit, but which this year was renamed the ‘Climate Implementation Summit’ by the COP27 Egyptian Presidency.
The first official to speak this afternoon, just ahead of the UN Secretary-General, was the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. He underscored that to overcome today’s climate change crisis and implement the Paris eaders needed to go beyond words.
“The people of the world are looking at us today and they want rapid concrete implementation of genuinely concrete actions to reduce emissions and to reinforce their ability to adapt to and guarantee the funding necessary for developing countries that today are suffering more than others,” he explained.
Mr. El-Sisi urged leaders to take in account the priorities of the African continent, and to support the principle of “shared responsibility”, to inspire trust in their ability to achieve the climate goals.
The Egyptian leader said that there were great expectations for the conference from millions of people across the world, and COP27 should deliver, including answering “thorny questions”.
“I encourage you to become the model that the world hopes for. And show genuine practical ability to face the challenge of climate change,” he highlighted.
At the end of his speech, the Egyptian President, speaking off the cuff, made an open call to the gathered leaders to push for an end to the war in Ukraine, sparking an ovation among the attendees.
“My country is not one of the strongest economically, we suffered greatly with COVID 19 and we are suffering once again because of this unnecessary war. The entire world is suffering,” he said.