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UN : Countdown to COP27 in Sharm el-Shaikh -Egypt

During the high-level week of the UN General Assembly, world leaders taking the podium to deliver their national statements might have not agreed on much, but there was one common thread that ran through most of their remarks: the need for urgent climate action.

With deadly floods in Pakistan, Europe’s hottest summer in 500 years, and with Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and United States hammered by ‘monster tropical storms’, it’s no coincidence that climate change has been in headlines worldwide pretty much every day for the past month.

These events haven’t only caused loss of human lives, but also caused suffering and the destruction of infrastructure and natural ecosystems.

Secretary-General António Guterres (at podium) briefs reporters on climate change and the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt.

As UN Secretary-General António Guterres told journalists on Monday: “we are in a life-or-death struggle for our own safety today and our survival tomorrow”.

Ministers are gathered this week in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, for a two-day gathering that will pave the way for the UN Climate Change Conference COP27 in Egypt in November.

“On every climate front, the only solution is decisive action in solidarity. COP27 is the place for all countries – led by the G-20 – to show they are in this fight and in it together,” the UN chief has said.

Melissa Clark, Author at UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) at the SEC – Glasgow 2021

World leaders not only need to honour the promises made last year in Glasgow but also scale up their commitments to get the planet back on track and limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as agreed in the Paris Agreement.

This will take finance, addressing loss and damage in developing countries and transforming energy systems, among other efforts.

The bar is high, and people around the world suffering the worst climate impacts among a combination of related dangers such as famine, are waiting for their pain to be acknowledged.

Communities in southern Madagascar continue to cultivate despite the challenges of desertification.

Climate and Environment

As government representatives begin the finalize the agenda for the COP27 climate change conference in Egypt next month, for pre-COP planning in the Democratic Republic of the Congo capital, Kinshasa, Secretary-General António Guterres told journalists in New York that the work ahead is “as immense as the climate impacts we are seeing around the world”.

The Glasgow Climate Test | Africa Renewal

“A third of Pakistan flooded. Europe’s hottest summer in 500 years. The Philippines hammered. The whole of Cuba in black-out. And here, in the United States, Hurricane Ian has delivered a brutal reminder that no country and no economy is immune from the climate crisis,” he highlighted.

And while “climate chaos gallops ahead, climate action has stalled,” he added.

Faulty maths

The top UN Official underscored the importance of COP27 while warning that the collective commitments of G20 leading industrialized nations governments are coming “far too little, and far too late”.

“The actions of the wealthiest developed and emerging economies simply don’t add up.,” he said, pointing out that current pledges and policies are “shutting the door” on limiting global temperature to 2°C, let alone meet the 1.5°C goal. 

Mr. Guterres warned, “we are in a life-or-death struggle for our own safety today and our survival tomorrow,” saying there is no time for pointing fingers or “twiddling thumbs” but instead requires “a quantum level compromise between developed and emerging economies”.

“The world can’t wait,” he spelled out. “Emissions are at an all-time high and rising”. 

And he said that while pursuing their own “drop-in-the-bucket initiatives” international financial institutions must overhaul their business approaches to combat climate change.

Backsliding

Meanwhile, as the planet burns, the Ukraine war is putting climate action on the back burner and the dynamic climate actors in the business world continue to be hampered by “obsolete regulatory frameworks, red tape and harmful subsidies that send the wrong signals”.

Meaningful progress must be made to address loss and damage beyond countries’ abilities to adapt as well as financial support for climate action, upheld the UN chief

Decisions must be made now on the question of loss and damage as “failure to act” will lead to “more loss of trust and more climate damage,” he said, describing it as “a moral imperative that cannot be ignored”.

Action ‘litmus test’

COP27 is “the number one litmus test” of how seriously governments take the growing climate toll on the most vulnerable countries.

“This week’s pre-COP can determine how this crucial issue will be handled in Sharm el-Shaikh,” he informed the media, noting that the world needs clarity from developed countries on the delivery of their $100 billion pledge to support climate action in developing countries.

Moreover, adaptation and resilience funding must represent half of all climate finance; multilateral development banks “must raise their game”; and emerging economies need support to back renewable energy and build resilience.

While the Resilience and Sustainability Trust led by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is a good start, major multilateral development bank shareholders must be the driving force for transformative change, he continued.

On every climate front, the only solution is solidarity and decisive action”.

The Secretary-General chief upheld that by showing up at COP27 in Sharm el-Shaikh, all countries – led by the G-20 – can demonstrate that “climate action truly is the top global priority that it must be”.

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