DUBAI – In a stirring speech at the opening of the World Climate Action Summit, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called for urgent and decisive action to combat climate change. Addressing a global audience in Dubai, the Secretary-General underscored the critical state of our planet, urging world leaders to take immediate and effective steps to adhere to the goals of the Paris Agreement and prevent a climate catastrophe.
The Secretary-General commenced his address by thanking the President of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and COP28 President Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber for their hospitality and the promising start to the COP28, including the expedited approval of the agenda and the operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund.
Drawing on his recent visits to Antarctica and Nepal, the Secretary-General vividly described the alarming reality of melting ice and glaciers, symbolizing the broader climate crisis. He emphasized that these distant locations, though geographically apart, are united in their vulnerability to climate change, illustrating the global nature of this existential threat.
The Secretary-General highlighted the alarming “vital signs” of our planet, including record emissions, rampant wildfires, devastating droughts, and rising temperatures. He warned that we are dangerously close to the critical 1.5-degree limit set by the Paris Agreement and that the world’s current trajectory would lead to a devastating three-degree temperature rise.
However, he also offered a ray of hope, asserting that it’s not too late to change course. He stressed the need for leadership, cooperation, and political will, alongside the deployment of existing technologies, to avert the worst impacts of climate chaos.
The speech touched on the exacerbating effect of climate change on global inequalities and conflicts. The Secretary-General particularly noted the recent turmoil in Gaza, highlighting how climate change can intensify injustices and crises worldwide.
A significant part of his address focused on the transformative potential of renewable energy. He lauded its benefits for the planet, public health, and economies, emphasizing its role in stabilizing energy markets, reducing costs, and promoting sustainable development.
The Secretary-General outlined three critical areas for action during the COP28:
Drastically cutting emissions and aligning Nationally Determined Contributions with the 1.5-degree limit.
Accelerating the transition to renewable energy, including phasing out fossil fuels in a timeframe consistent with the 1.5-degree goal.
Addressing climate justice by increasing financial support for developing countries, including doubling adaptation finance and delivering on the $100 billion promise.
In a direct appeal to fossil fuel company leaders, he urged them not to persist with obsolete business models but to lead the transition to renewables. He called on governments to facilitate this shift through regulation, legislation, carbon pricing, ending fossil fuel subsidies, and adopting windfall taxes on profits.
The speech emphasizing that the climate challenge is a test of global leadership. The Secretary-General implored the attendees to make COP28 a turning point and a beacon of new hope for the future of humanity.
The World Climate Action Summit continues with high expectations, as world leaders and policymakers deliberate on implementing the Secretary-General’s recommendations to address the climate crisis. The outcomes of this summit are eagerly awaited, with the hope that decisive action will follow to protect our planet for future generations.