UNITED NATIONS >> United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned Thursday that the planet is heading for irreversible “climate chaos” and urged world leaders at the upcoming climate summit in Egypt to get the world back on track to cut emissions and deliver on promises on climate finance. and helping developing countries to accelerate their transition to renewable energy.
The UN Secretary-General said the 27th annual conference of the 198 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – known as COP27 – “must be the place to rebuild trust and re-establish the ambition needed to avoid pushing our planet over the climate slope.”
He said the most important outcome of COP27, which begins on November 6 in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, is to have “a clear political will to cut emissions faster.”
This requires a historic agreement between rich developed countries and emerging economies, Guterres said. “And if this agreement is not made, we will be doomed to fail.”
In the agreement, the Secretary-General said, wealthier countries should provide financial and technical assistance – along with support from multilateral development banks and technology companies – to help emerging economies accelerate their transition to renewable energy.
In the past few weeks, Guterres said, reports have painted a “clear and bleak picture” of greenhouse gas emissions that lead to global warming still rising at record levels rather than dropping by 45% by 2030 as scientists say should happen.
The landmark Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015 to tackle climate change, called for global temperatures to rise by a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century compared to pre-industrial times, and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees Celsius. (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).
Guterres said greenhouse gas emissions are now on track to rise by 10%, and temperatures are on track to rise by as much as 2.8°C under current policies by the end of the century.
“This means that our planet is on its way to reaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible and will remain forever in the shadow of catastrophic high temperatures,” the Secretary-General warned.
He said the 1.5-degree goal is “in intensive care” and “in high risk”, but still achievable. “And my goal in Egypt is to make sure that we gather enough political will to really make this prospect go forward,” the UN Secretary-General said.
“COP27 must be the place to bridge the ambition gap, the credibility gap, and the solidarity gap,” Guterres said. “It should put us back on track to reduce emissions, enhance resilience and adaptation, deliver on the promise of climate finance and address the losses and damages from climate change.”
The data shows that rich countries, especially the United States, have emit far more than their share of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from burning coal, oil, and natural gas. Poor countries like Pakistan, where recent floods have left a third of the country underwater, have been hit far more than their share of global carbon emissions.
Loss and damage have been talked about for years, but wealthier nations often refrained from negotiating details about paying for past climate disasters, such as this summer’s Pakistan floods.
“Losses and damages have always been the deferred issue,” Guterres said. There is no more time to postpone it. We must be aware of the losses and damages and we must create an institutional framework to deal with them.”
“Getting tangible results on loss and damage is the true test of governments’ commitment to closing all these gaps,” the Secretary-General said on Thursday.
“COP27 must lay the foundations for faster and bolder climate action now and in this critical decade, when the global climate battle is being won or lost,” Guterres said.