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Thursday, December 8, 2022

COP27 didn’t address emission reduction – Guterres

In a statement at the conclusion of COP27, UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, described the global summit as “an important step towards justice”, even as the “the world still needs a giant leap on climate ambition”. He however frowns at the fact that the COP failed to address reduction of emissions

António Guterres
UN Secretary-General, António Guterres

I thank our hosts – the Egyptian government and COP27 President Sameh Shoukry – for their hospitality. I also want to recognise Simon Stiell and the United Nations Climate Change team for all their efforts.

And I pay tribute to the delegates and members of civil society who came to Sharm el-Sheikh to push leaders for real climate action. That is what we need.

COP27 took place not far from Mount Sinai, a site that is central to many faiths and to the story of Moses, or Musa.     

It’s fitting. Climate chaos is a crisis of biblical proportions. The signs are everywhere. Instead of a burning bush, we face a burning planet.   

From the beginning, this conference has been driven by two overriding themes: justice and ambition. Justice for those on the frontlines who did so little to cause the crisis – including the victims of the recent floods in Pakistan that inundated one-third of the country.   

Ambition to keep the 1.5-degree limit alive and pull humanity back from the climate cliff.  

This COP has taken an important step towards justice. I welcome the decision to establish a loss and damage fund and to operationalise it in the coming period. Clearly this will not be enough, but it is a much-needed political signal to rebuild broken trust.

The voices of those on the frontlines of the climate crisis must be heard. The UN system will support this effort every step of the way.

Justice should also mean several other things: Finally making good on the long-delayed promise of $100 billion a year in climate finance for developing countries; clarity and a credible roadmap to double adaptation finance; and changing the business models of multilateral development banks and international financial institutions.

They must accept more risk and systematically leverage private finance for developing countries at reasonable costs.

But let’s be clear. Our planet is still in the emergency room. We need to drastically reduce emissions now – and this is an issue this COP did not address.

A fund for loss and damage is essential – but it’s not an answer if the climate crisis washes a small island state off the map – or turns an entire African country to desert.

The world still needs a giant leap on climate ambition. The red line we must not cross is the line that takes our planet over the 1.5-degree temperature limit.

To have any hope of keeping to 1.5, we need to massively invest in renewables and end our addiction to fossil fuels. We must avoid an energy scramble in which developing countries finish last – as they did in the race for COVID-19 vaccines.

Doubling down on fossil fuels is double trouble. The Just Energy Transition Partnerships are important pathways to accelerate the phasing out of coal and scaling up renewables.

But we need much more. That’s why I am pushing so hard for a Climate Solidarity Pact. A Pact in which all countries make an extra effort to reduce emissions this decade in line with the 1.5-degree goal.   

And a Pact to mobilise – together with International Financial Institutions and the private sector – financial and technical support for large emerging economies to accelerate their renewable energy transition.

This is essential to keep the 1.5-degree limit within reach – and for everyone to play their part.

COP27 concludes with much homework and little time. We are already halfway between the Paris Climate Agreement and the 2030 deadline.  

We need all hands-on deck to drive justice and ambition. This also includes ambition to end the suicidal war on nature that is fueling the climate crisis, driving species to extinction and destroying ecosystems.

Next month’s UN Biodiversity Conference is the moment to adopt an ambitious global biodiversity framework for the next decade, drawing from the power of nature-based solutions and the critical role of indigenous communities.   

Finally, justice and ambition require the essential voice of civil society. The most vital energy source in the world is people power.

That is why it is so important to understand the human rights dimension of climate action. Climate advocates – led by the moral voice of young people – have kept the agenda moving through the darkest of days.

They must be protected. To all of them, I say we share your frustration. But we need you now more than ever.

Unlike the stories from the Sinai Peninsula, we cannot wait for a miracle from a mountaintop. It will take each and every one of us fighting in the trenches each and every day. Together, let’s not relent in the fight for climate justice and climate ambition. We can and must win this battle for our lives. 

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