COP27: We are on the highway to climate hell, says UN chief

COP27: We are on the highway to climate hell, says UN chief

  • China, the United States have a leading role
  • Guterres calls for a phase-out of coal by 2040
  • The UAE, host of the 2023 talks, says it will continue to produce fossil fuel

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, EGYPT, Nov 7 (Reuters) – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told countries gathered at the start COP27 summit in Egypt on Monday are faced with a stark choice: work together now to reduce emissions or condemn future generations to climate catastrophe.

The speech set an urgent tone as governments sit down two weeks of conversation about how to prevent the worst of climate changeeven as they are distracted by Russia’s war in Ukraine, rising consumer inflation and energy shortages.

“Humanity has a choice: cooperate or disappear,” Guterres told delegates gathered in the coastal resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

He called for a pact between the world’s richest and poorest countries to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels and finance to ensure that poorer countries can reduce emissions and deal with the climate impacts that have already occurred.

“The two largest economies – the United States and China – have a special responsibility to join efforts to make this pact a reality,” he said.

Despite decades of climate talks – Egypt’s COP is the 27th Conference of the Parties – progress has been insufficient to save the planet from excessive warming because countries have been too slow or unwilling to act, he noted.

“Greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. Global temperatures continue to rise. And our planet is rapidly approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible,” he said. “We’re on the highway to climate hell with our foot on the pedal.”

Former US Vice President Al Gore, also speaking at the event, said global leaders have a credibility problem when it comes to climate change. He criticized the continued search by developed nations for gas sources in Africa, which he described as “fossil fuel colonialism”.

“We all have a credibility problem: we talk and we start to act, but we don’t do enough,” Gore said.

“We need to see the so-called ‘gas rush’ for what it really is: you’re rushing down the bridge to nowhere, leaving the countries of the world facing climate chaos and billions in stranded assets, especially here in Africa,” he said. .


Immediately following Guterres’ speech, United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahya took the stage and said his country, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, will continue to produce fossil fuels as long as there is a need.

“The UAE is considered a responsible energy supplier and will continue to play this role as long as the world needs oil and gas,” he said.

The UAE will host next year’s UN conference, which will try to finalize the agreements reached last year in Britain and this year’s negotiations with Egypt.

Many countries with rich oil, gas and coal resources have criticized efforts to rapidly transition away from fossil fuels, arguing that it is economically unwise and unfair to poorer and less developed countries seeking economic growth.

Signatories to the 2015 Paris climate accord pledged to meet the long-term goal of keeping global temperatures from rising more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the threshold at which scientists say climate change risks spiraling out of control.

Guterres said the goal will only remain alive if the world can achieve net zero emissions by 2050. He asked countries to agree to phase out coal, one of the most carbon-intensive fuels, by 2040, with members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development reaching that mark by 2030.

The head of the International Monetary Fund told Reuters on the sidelines of the conference that climate targets depend on achieving a global carbon price of at least $75 per ton by the end of the decade, and that the pace of changes in the real economy was still “too slow”.

In the meantime, the World Trade Organization announced that report announced on Monday that he should tackle trade barriers for low-carbon industries to address the role of global trade in driving climate change.

Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; edited by Barbara Lewis and Frank Jack Daniel

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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