UN Secretary General: “We’re on a highway to climate hell”

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres at lectern (climate hell)
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has launched a stunning opener at the COP27 summit, saying, “We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator”, Reuters reports.

The warning was intended to set an urgent tone as senior government officials sit down for two weeks of talks on how to avert the worst impacts of climate change, even as they are distracted by Russia’s war in Ukraine, rampant inflation and energy shortages.

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Guterres called for a pact between the world’s richest and poorest countries to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels and speed up delivery of the funding needed to ensure poorer countries can reduce emissions and cope with the impacts of global warming that have already occurred.

This comes as delegates from nearly 200 countries kicked off the summit with an agreement to discuss compensating poor nations for mounting damage linked to global warming, placing the controversial topic on the agenda for the first time since climate talks began decades ago.

For more than a decade, wealthy nations have rejected official discussions on what is referred to as loss and damage, the term used to describe rich nations paying out funds to help poor countries cope with the consequences of global warming for which they say they bear relatively little blame.

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So far, only two countries have offered funding for loss and damage. Denmark committed 100 million Danish crowns ($13 million), and Scotland pledged 2 million pounds ($2.28 million).

Britain’s foreign minister James Cleverly will also announce investments of more than 100 million pounds ($115 million) to support developing countries in their fight against the impact of climate change. By comparison, some research suggests climate-linked losses could reach $580 billion per year by 2030.

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