COP27: We are on a highway to climate hell, according to the UN boss

  • China and the United States play a leading role
  • António Guterres wants to eliminate coal by 2040
  • UAE, host of 2023 talks, says it will continue to produce fossil fuels

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, EGYPT, November 7 (Reuters) – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told countries gathered at the start of the COP27 Summit in Egypt on Monday, they face 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 to two weeks of talks on how to avoid the worst of climate changeeven as they are distracted by Russia’s war in Ukraine, runaway consumer inflation and energy shortages.

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

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

“The two largest economies – the United States and China – have a special responsibility to work together 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 are too slow or unwilling to act, he noted. .

“Greenhouse gas emissions keep rising. Global temperatures keep rising. And our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible,” he said. “We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.”

Former US Vice President Al Gore, also speaking at the event, said world leaders have a credibility problem when it comes to climate change. He criticized the continued quest of developed countries for gas resources in Africa, which he called “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 momentum’ for what it really is: a momentum on a bridge to nowhere, leaving countries around the world facing climate chaos and billions in stranded assets, in especially here in Africa,” he said. .


Immediately after António Guterres’ speech, the President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahya, took the floor and said that his country, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, would continue to produce fuels fossils for as long as needed. .

“The UAE is seen as a responsible supplier of energy and it will continue to do so for as long as the world needs oil and gas,” he said.

The United Arab Emirates will host the United Nations conference next year, which will try to finalize agreements reached last year in Britain and at the Egyptian talks this year.

Many oil, gas and coal-rich countries have criticized the drive for a rapid transition away from fossil fuels, saying it is economically reckless and unfair to poorer and less developed countries seeking economic growth.

Signatories to the 2015 Paris climate accord had committed to a long-term goal of preventing global temperatures from rising more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the threshold which scientists say climate change is in danger of spiraling out of control.

Guterres said that goal will only stay in place if the world can achieve net zero emissions by 2050. He asked countries to agree to phase out the use of coal, one of the most emissions, by 2040 in the world, with the members of the Organization. for economic cooperation and development to reach this milestone by 2030.

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

The World Trade Organization, on the other hand, said in a report released on Monday that it should tackle trade barriers for low-carbon industries to tackle the role of global trade in driving climate change.

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

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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