UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday urged world leaders to work together to ensure the world does not warm more than 1.5-degrees from pre-industrial levels, warning the planet was on a “highway to climate hell” without urgent action.
The 1.5 degree goal was laid out in the Paris Agreement in 2015.
Speaking at the 27th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 27), Guterres said that the “climate crisis is the defining issue of our time.”
“The global climate fight will be won or lost in this crucial decade – on our watch. One thing is certain: those that give up are sure to lose. So let’s fight together – and let’s win,” said Guterres.
Gutteres called for countries to sign up to a ‘climate solidarity pact’, saying the choice was between such an agreement or a “collective suicide pact” for the planet.
“A pact in which all countries make an extra effort to reduce emissions this decade in line with the 1.5-degree goal. A pact in which wealthier countries and international financial institutions provide financial and technical assistance to help emerging economies speed their own renewable energy transition,” said Guterres.
Guterres said that the worst impacts of climate change would be felt in developing countries, which contributed the least to creating the crisis and have the fewest resources to tackle it.
“The deadly impacts of climate change are here and now. Loss and damage can no longer be swept under the rug. It is a moral imperative. It is a fundamental question of international solidarity – and climate justice. Those who contributed least to the climate crisis are reaping the whirlwind sown by others. Many are blindsided by impacts for which they had no warning or means of preparation,” said Guterres.
Concluding his speech, the UN head reiterated his call for global actions as a window of opportunity remains open, but only a narrow shaft of light remains.