The head of the United Nation, politicians and green activists have slammed the wealthy nations for their ponderous response to the climate crisis and issuesd a warning that there is not much time left to avert environmental disasters and an unstable planet.
Speaking at the Climate Ambition Summit on sidelines of UNGA on Wednesday, they also called upon the developed countries or the biggest emitters to step up both by drastically cutting their own emissions and showing solidarity with climate-vulnerable countries through a just and equitable energy transition – before it’s too late.
“With extreme weather events accelerating, “humanity has opened the gates to hell,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, describing distressing scenes of farmers helplessly watching crops washed away by floods, the emergence of virulent disease due to rising temperatures, and the mass exodus of people fleeing historic wildfires.
He warned that climate action was being “dwarfed by the scale of the challenge”, with humanity heading towards a 2.8°C temperature rise, increasing danger and instability.
“Our focus here is on climate solutions – and our task is urgent”, said the UN chief who hosted the summit with the aim to spur action from countries and companies whose climate plans were not in line with the global climate target.
Heads of state from China, the United States, India, Russia, the United Kingdom and France skipped the summit.
“Horrendous heat is having horrendous effects”, he told the the politicians, business and civil society gathered in New York for the first ever climate ambition summit.
The summit represents a critical political milestone for demonstrating that there is collective global will to accelerate the pace and scale of a just transition to a more equitable renewable-energy based, climate-resilient global economy.
“Many of the poorest nations have every right to be angry,” the head of the UN added, explaining that promised finance had not materialized while the costs of borrowing remain sky-high.
“All parties must operationalize the Loss and Damage Fund at COP28,” he urged and reminded the developed countries must meet the $100 billion commitment, replenish the Green Climate Fund, and double adaptation funding.
COP28 President-Designate Dr. Sultan Al Jaber addressed the event, issuing a rallying cry to the international community to move from agreements to action on global climate change..
“Climate change is our common enemy, and we must unite to fight it", he said.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina alleged that Climate Vulnerable Forum's repeated calls for an equal distribution of climate finance between adaptation and mitigation have received little response.
“The Adaptation Fund needs to live up to expectations,” she said.
Hasina said that as a climate justice advocate, Bangladesh stands ready to align with any constructive move that advances the agenda.
“We also expect the world’s major economies to remain honest about climate change and do their fair share to avert the impending crisis,” she said.
“We are in the final stages of what actions are needed to preserve this planet and regrettably I’m not sure everybody is getting it,” said Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who called on debt pauses and cancellations and changes in multinational development banks and the insurance industry.
Kenyan President William Ruto, which recently hosted the Africa Climate Summit, said “Unlike other regions, Africa does not have to choose between satisfying new demand and decarbonizing existing capacities, because our existing capacity is very low,” he explained, adding that the continent can “leapfrog into fully green industrial paradigm”.
Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian Peoples' Movement on Debt and Development, said new agreements are needed to make the shift “without loopholes or excuses. “An international treaty on the non-proliferation of fossil fuels and a global phase-out plan are needed to reach “real zero” by 2050.”
“We, the people of the Global South are not asking for aid or assistance. Climate finance is an obligation and a part of reparations for historical and continuing harms and injustices,” she asserted the right “not just to survive, but to build a better home and future for our children,” she observed.
President of Austria Alexander Van der Bellen, announced an additional €220 million for tackling climate change between 2023 to 2026.
However, the Austrian president said, “we cannot buy ourselves out of the climate crisis. We must curb emissioon.”
David Waskow, director of the International Climate Initiative at the World Resources Institute, said, “There is simply a huge mismatch between the depth of actions governments and businesses are taking and the transformative shifts that are needed to address the climate crisis.”