“We are on a highway to hell with our foot still on the accelerator,” stated António Guterres in the COP27 opening ceremony. The United Nations Secretary-General used his time this morning to instil urgency into the Conference of the Parties that begins today and will continue for two weeks, highlighting to the crowd that “we are in the fight of our lives and we are losing.”
Guterres paid heed to the Russo-Ukraine war in his note, stating this conflict and others “have caused so much bloodshed and violence and had dramatic impacts all over the world.” However, he also stressed that it is crucial we do not allow these crises to distract us from the “central challenge of our century”: climate change.
Global warming “is on a different timeline and a different scale,” he said, and these crises, rather than consuming our focus, should be viewed as reasons for “greater urgency, stronger action, and effective accountability.”
The impacts of climate change are here now, and the loss & damage they cause can no longer be ignored.#COP27 must agree on a clear, time-bound roadmap reflective of the scale and urgency of the challenge.
It's a moral imperative and a question of solidarity & climate justice pic.twitter.com/YEJXFd7QFF
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) November 7, 2022
The importance of building trust between the Global North and South was also highlighted in the opening ceremony.
Guterres called for the formation of a COP27 “climate solidarity pact” between developed and developing countries in which the former take the lead and aid emerging economies in the acceleration of their energy transition.
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The pact would also commit nations to ending their reliance on fossil fuels and reducing their emissions in line with the 1.5°C limit.
— Amina J Mohammed (@AminaJMohammed) November 6, 2022
The question of loss and damage – referring to the destructive impacts of climate change particularly within vulnerable countries– “can no longer be swept under the rug,” said Guterres.
To address this issue that becomes increasingly pressing each year as floods, droughts, and wildfires intensify, Guterres called for “universal early warning system coverage within five years.” This would allow countries to better prepare for climate-related disasters and mitigate the destruction possible.
He also suggested that all governments place a tax on the windfall profits of fossil fuel companies. This money could then be redirected to aid “people struggling with rising food and energy prices” and “countries suffering loss and damage caused by the climate crisis.”
The loss and damage issue will, according to the Secretary-General, function as a “litmus test” of the commitment of governments to the success of COP27, dividing those willing to follow up on their statements of solidarity with action, from those who will not.
Guterres’ speech was brought to a close with the statement that although a “window of opportunity remains open” in our fight to address the climate crisis, only a “narrow shaft of light remains.”
It is therefore imperative that governments maximise their opportunity at COP27 and take immediate action so that this “crucial decade” can pivot us back towards safety.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, at COP27. Featured Photo Credit: UN Climate Change.