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We are on a highway to climate hell: UN head to COP27 participants

UN Secretary General António Guterres told countries gathered at the start of the COP27 summit in Egypt on Monday that they face a stark choice: work together now to cut emissions or condemn future generations to climate catastrophe.

The speech set an urgent tone as governments sit down for two weeks of talks on how to avert the worst of climate change, even as they are distracted by Russia’s war in Ukraine, rampant consumer inflation and energy shortages.

“Humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish,” Mr Guterres told delegates gathered in the seaside resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

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

The UN head also asked countries to agree to phase out the use of coal, one of the most carbon-emitting fuels, by 2040 globally, and for members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development to hit that mark by 2030.

Despite decades of climate talks as the Egypt COP makes for the 27th Conference of the Parties, progress has been insufficient to save the planet from excessive warming as countries are too slow or reluctant to act, he noted.

I have just warned global leaders at #COP27:

We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.

Our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible.

We need urgent #ClimateAction.

— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) November 7, 2022
“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, stressing that “we are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.”

Poland needs ‘rational’ energy transition
“We have said so far that we need a rapid [energy] transformation. I stressed that energy transition has a positive aspect for the development of countries. Today we need to make it clear that the most important thing is to ensure energy security,” the Polish President’s Office wrote on social media, citing Andrzej Duda, present at the summit.

“We [Poland] are one of those countries that, in connection with the transition, will have to bear large costs. We emphasise that we must do it in a rational, fair way. So that it favours people, not hinders them,” it added.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused huge problems in the energy market. We, fortunately, have managed to build interconnectors, alternative sources of gas supply, we have Baltic Pipe,” the Office wrote, pointing to Poland’s actions in achieving energy security.


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