The world cannot wait

We are weeks from the UN Climate Conference — COP27 — in Egypt.

The work ahead is immense. As immense as the climate impacts we are seeing around the world.

A third of Pakistan flooded.

Europe’s hottest summer in 500 years.

The Philippines hammered.

The whole of Cuba in black-out.

And here, in the United States, Hurricane Ian has delivered a brutal reminder that no country and no economy is immune from the climate crisis.

While climate chaos gallops ahead, climate action has stalled.

COP27 is critical — but we have a long way to go.

Let’s be clear. The collective commitments of G20 governments are coming far too little and far too late. The actions of the wealthiest developed and emerging economies simply don’t add up.

Taken together, current pledges and policies are shutting the door on our chance to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius, let alone meet the 1.5-degree goal.

We are in a life-or-death struggle for our own safety today and our survival tomorrow.

There is no time for pointing fingers — or twiddling thumbs. It is time for a game-changing, quantum — level compromise between developed and emerging economies.

The world cannot wait.

Emissions are at an all-time high and rising.

Meanwhile, the war in Ukraine is putting climate action on the back burner while our planet itself is burning.

We even see backsliding in some areas of the private sector — namely, around fossil fuels — while the most dynamic climate actors in the business world continue to be hampered by obsolete regulatory frameworks, red tape and harmful subsidies that send the wrong signals to markets.

Every government, every business, every investor, every institution must step up with concrete climate actions for net zero.

We also need to see meaningful progress in two other key areas: Decisions and actions to address loss and damage that are beyond countries’ abilities to adapt. And finance for climate action.

On the central question of loss and damage, we know people and nations are suffering now. They need meaningful decisions now.

Failure to act on loss and damage will lead to more loss of trust and more climate damage.

This is a moral imperative that cannot be ignored, and COP27 must be the place for action on loss and damage.

This is the number one litmus test of how seriously both developed and developing governments take the growing climate toll on the most vulnerable countries.

On finance, the world needs clarity from developed countries on where they are this year on the delivery on their $100 billion dollars a year promise to support climate action in developing countries.

We need to see evidence of how they will double adaptation finance to at least $40 billion dollars in 2025, as agreed in Glasgow.

Funding for adaptation and resilience must represent at least half of all climate finance.

And the Multilateral Development Banks — including the World Bank — must raise their game.

Emerging economies in particular need their support to back the renewable energy revolution and build resilience.

The Resilience and Sustainability Trust led by the International Monetary Fund is a good start. But the major shareholders in the Multilateral Development Banks — the member states — must be the driving force for transformative change.

International Financial Institutions need more resources.

Small Island Developing States and other vulnerable middle-income countries need access to concessional finance for adaptation to protect their communities and infrastructure.

At the same time, international financial institutions must overhaul their business model and approach to risk.

Beyond pursuing their own drop-in-the-bucket initiatives, they must intensify their efforts to leverage the necessary massive increases of private finance as first-investors and risk-takers.

On every climate front, the only solution is decisive action in solidarity.

COP27 is the place for all countries — led by the G-20 — to show they are in this fight and in it together.

I am urging leaders at the highest level to take full part in COP 27 and tell the world what climate action they will take nationally and globally.

Leaders of the world can demonstrate through their presence and active participation that climate action truly is the top global priority that it must be.


United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ opening remarks on the Pre-COP27 climate talks in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The COP27 Climate Change Conference will be held 6 to 18 November 2022 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

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