UN Chief: We're On the 'Highway to Climate Hell'

'Humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish,' he tells COP27 climate conference
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 7, 2022 1:03 PM CST
UN Chief: We're On the 'Highway to Climate Hell'
"Africa should not pay for crimes they have not committed,” Central African Republic President Faustin Archange Touadera said.   (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke at the start of the COP27 climate conference in Egypt Monday—and he didn't try to sugarcoat his warning about the scale of the challenge the world faces. "Humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish," he told delegates in Sharm el-Sheikh, per Reuters. "Greenhouse gas emissions keep growing. Global temperatures keep rising. And our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible," he said. "We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator." The choice, Guterres said, is either "a Climate Solidarity Pact—or a Collective Suicide Pact.” More:

  • The conference. World leaders have gathered for talks as part of the two-week conference, the Guardian reports. President Biden is not among them yet, but he is due to address the conference Friday. A record 110 world leaders are scheduled to address the conference, which has around 44,000 registered attendees. Though the stakes are very high, few observers expect there will be a major breakthrough. "There are big climate summits and little climate summits and this was never expected to be a big one,” says Nigel Purvis, CEO of Climate Advisers. The conference will focus on implementation of past promises to cut emissions.

  • Compensation is a major issue. After disagreement between delegates was resolved, the issue of compensation for poorer countries for damage from climate change caused by rich, polluting countries was put on the agenda for the first time. But while compensation for "loss and damage" will be discussed, there's no agreement on setting up a compensation fund, the New York Times reports.
  • "We suffer the most." Seychelles President Wavel John Charles Ramkalawan was among those calling for compensation from wealthier countries, the AP reports. "Like other islands, our contribution in the destruction of the planet is minimal," he said. "Yet we suffer the most." Kenyan President William K. Ruto said loss and damage "is our daily experience and the living nightmare of millions of Kenyans and hundreds of millions of Africans."
  • Leader calls for tax on energy companies. Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley called for a 10% tax on energy companies. She spoke of the "horror and devastation" the world has seen since last year's COP26 conference in Scotland, including "the apocalyptic floods in Pakistan or the heat waves from Europe to China or indeed in the last few days in my own region, the devastation caused in Belize by Tropical Storm Lisa or the torrential floods a few days ago in St. Lucia."
  • Macron: Ukraine war shouldn't halt progess. French President Emmanuel Macron said the "uncertainty and tension" caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine might cause some countries to say they have more important priorities than reducing emissions. "But at the same time we see many states being affected by the consequences of the unravelling of the climate, and we must show that the climate emergency is well and truly here," he said, per the BBC.
  • US says private sector should play bigger role. Corporations need to play a bigger role in aiding vulnerable countries and helping the world adapt to the changing climate, American officials say. We need to unlock the private sector's "capacity for people to make investments in building a clean-energy future or else we’ll miss both the development goals and the climate goals," John D. Podesta, senior adviser to President Biden on climate change, tells the Washington Post. Private sector capital flows, he says, is "where the real money is."
(More climate change stories.)

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