COP 27: UN Boss warns world is on path to ‘climate hell’

“Humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the start of the COP27 summit in Egypt. He urged an energy pact between the world’s richest and poorest countries.

Humanity must cooperate on cutting carbon emissions or face a bleak future, UN chief Antonio Guterres told the opening of the COP27 climate summit on Monday.

The two-day gathering of world leaders opened in Cairo, with hopes of substantive progress dimmed due to the current geopolitical tension and economic volatility.

What did the UN boss tell leaders?

“Humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish,” Guterres told the conference in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheik. “It is either a Climate Solidarity Pact or a Collective Suicide Pact.”

The UN chief warned that, on the current trajectory, “we are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.”

Guterres called for a pact between the world’s richest and poorest countries to accelerate a shift from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources. He called for more rapid delivery of funds to help less affluent nations reduce emissions, and to buffer them against the unavoidable impact of climate change.

“The two largest economies — the United States and China — have a particular responsibility to join efforts to make this pact a reality,” he said.

Humanity must cooperate on cutting carbon emissions or face a bleak future, UN chief Antonio Guterres told the opening of the COP27 climate summit on Monday.

The two-day gathering of world leaders opened in Cairo, with hopes of substantive progress dimmed due to the current geopolitical tension and economic volatility.

Guterres called for a pact between the world’s richest and poorest countries to accelerate a shift from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources. He called for more rapid delivery of funds to help less affluent nations reduce emissions, and to buffer them against the unavoidable impact of climate change.

“The two largest economies — the United States and China — have a particular responsibility to join efforts to make this pact a reality,” he said.

What’s the background to the summit? 

The summit takes place with world economies reeling from a barrage of international crises, from the COVID-19 pandemic to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Meanwhile, there is concern that the world is backsliding on commitments to slash global emissions by 45% by 2030 compared to 2010’s levels. It’s hoped that such a reduction could help meet the targets of the 2015 Paris Agreement — limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above late 19th-century levels. 

Under some predictions, current trends would see carbon pollution actually increase by 10% by the end of the decade, and a 2.8-degree Celsius increase. 

With just a 1.2-degree Celsius increase so far, the impact of climate change is already notable with an increase in the magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events. They range from major droughts in the Horn of Africa, which have forced millions to the brink of starvation, to deadly flooding in Pakistan

Chinese leader Xi Jinping, whose vast nation emits more greenhouse gases than any other in overall terms, is not attending the summit. 

US President Joe Biden, whose country rates second in the emissions stakes, but still well above China in per capita terms, will join COP27 later this week. That follows midterm elections on Tuesday that could give control of the US Congress to Republicans hostile to international action on climate change. 

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rc/dj (dpa, AFP, AP, DW, Reuters)

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