DUBAI: Climate change is a sickness only global leaders can cure with policy changes and effective actions, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has asserted.
Addressing the world leaders at the UN Climate Change Conference, COP28, in Dubai he highlighted the Earth’s challenging times, marked by unprecedented emissions, wildfires, and droughts, culminating in 2023 being the hottest year in recorded human history.
He urged immediate action to achieve the Paris Agreement goals, including limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5-degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels, emphasizing the necessity of global cooperation, leadership, and political will.
“Polar ice and glaciers are vanishing before our eyes, causing havoc the world over: from landslides and floods to rising seas. But this is just one symptom of the sickness bringing our climate to its knees. A sickness only you, global leaders, can cure,” said Guterres.
“We are miles from the goals of the Paris Agreement — and minutes to midnight for the 1.5-degree limit. But it is not too late. You can prevent planetary crash and burn. We have the technologies to avoid the worst of climate chaos — if we act now,” he added.
The secretary-general asserted that climate goals could be materialized only if humans stop burning of fossil fuels immediately.
“The science is clear. The 1.5-degree limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels. Not reduce. Not abate. Phase out — with a clear timeframe aligned with 1.5 degrees,” said Guterres.
He added that governments and fossil fuel companies have many things to do to combat the negative impacts of climate change.
“I have a message for fossil fuel company leaders. Your old road is rapidly aging. Do not double down on an obsolete business model. Lead the transition to renewables,” added Guterres.
He continued: “I urge governments to help industry make the right choice by regulating, legislating, putting a fair price on carbon, ending fossil fuel subsidies, and adopting a windfall tax on profits.”
Guterres highlighted the disproportionate impact of climate change on developing countries, emphasizing the insufficient support from developed nations.
“Climate justice is long overdue. Developing countries are being devastated by disasters they did not cause. Extortionate borrowing costs are blocking their climate action plans. And support is far too little, far too late,” he said.
The UN chief stressed that the Global Stocktake must commit to a surge in finance, including for adaptation and loss and damage. “Developed countries must show how they will double adaptation finance to $40 billion a year by 2025 as promised and clarify how they deliver on the $100 billion — as promised.”
For his part, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the president of the UAE, said that this year’s COP28 is crucial as the world grapples with numerous challenges, notably the severe impacts of climate change.
He highlighted the UAE’s commitment to a sustainable future, emphasizing the country’s target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
“The UAE has an established record in climate action. When we committed to host COP28, we pledged to bring the world together to unite, work and deliver. We are finding practical ways to accelerate the world’s transition to low-emission economy,” said Al-Nahyan.
During his speech, Al-Nahyan also announced the establishment of a $30 billion fund by the UAE for global climate solutions.
“The lack of readily available and affordable climate finance has long been one of the biggest obstacles to advancing climate action globally. Therefore, I am pleased to announce the establishment of a $30 billion fund for global climate solutions.”
He said this fund is specifically designed to “bridge the climate finance gap,” ensuring availability, accessibility, and affordability at scale.
Speaking at the same event, Charles III, King of the UK, said that the world is seeing “alarming tipping points which is being reached.”
“I pray with all my heart that COP28 will be another critical turning point toward genuine transformational action,” said the King.