‘Humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish’, warns Guterres at start of COP27


The world is going straight to “collective suicide” if you do not act quickly and strongly in the face of the accelerating climate crisis, the UN boss launched on Monday to the greats of this world who came to speak at the climate conference. in Egypt.

“Humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish. It’s either a Climate Solidarity Pact or a Collective Suicide Pact,” Antonio Guterres told the nearly 100 heads of state and government gathered in Sharm el-Sheikh at the start of COP27, which will last until 18 november.

“We are on the highway to climatic hell with our foot still on the accelerator”, again launched, paraphrasing the Australian hard rock group AC / DC, the secretary general, whose warnings on the gravity of the crisis climate are becoming more and more strident.

Because faced with the emergency, it is a question of putting the maximum pressure on the countries so that they strengthen the fight against global warming, despite the « polycrisis » which monopolizes their attention: war in Ukraine, energy and food crises, return of inflation, looming recession…

Unacceptable and outrageous

If the other crises will pass, the climate is “the defining issue of our time”, which it would be “unacceptable, scandalous and self-destructive” to relegate “to the background”, hammered Mr. Guterres.

As already shown by its catastrophic impacts which are multiplying: devastating floods, heat waves, droughts damaging the harvests.

The current commitments of the countries are however far from meeting the objectives of the Paris agreement of 2015, the cornerstone of climate diplomacy. Namely to contain global warming “significantly” below “2°C compared to the pre-industrial era, and if possible to” 1.5°C.

The latest “national contributions”, if for once fully respected, would at best leave the world on a trajectory of +2.4°C by the end of the century, according to the UN.

And with the current policies, it is even a catastrophic +2.8°C that is looming.

One of the mortgages weighing on the climate fight is the renewed tension between the world’s two biggest polluters, China and the United States. Their presidents will not meet in Sharm el-Sheikh, but should see each other next week in Bali, at the G20.

The UN boss called on them to assume their « particular responsibility ».

The appointment

Just like French President Emmanuel Macron, who launched on the sidelines of the COP: « We must have the United States and China who are really there », in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse and financial solidarity. He also called on rich non-European countries to « pay their share ».

This aspect of finance, in particular aid from rich countries to the poorest, the least responsible for greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming but often the most exposed to the impacts, is one of the thorniest issues at COP27.

For the first time, the issue of financing the damage already caused by global warming will thus be on the official agenda of a COP.

They are already counted in tens of billions of dollars – more than 30 for example for the recent floods which put under water a third of Pakistan – and should grow strongly.

Vulnerable countries are demanding a specific financing mechanism, to which the richest are reluctant, who fear seeing their responsibility called into question and argue that climate financing is already complex enough.

The COP27 will not lead to a decision, the discussions should continue until 2024, which exasperates certain activists, who were demanding a decision as early as COP27.

Confidence at rock bottom between North and South

Because confidence on these issues is at its lowest between countries of the North and the South, the rich have still not kept their commitment to provide the poorest in 2020 with 100 billion dollars per year in aid for the reduction of emissions and adaptation to the effects of climate change.

Brazilian President-elect Lula, whose victory has given hope to defenders of the Amazon, one of the « lungs » of the planet, could for his part make a visit to Sharm el-Sheikh before the end of the conference on November 18.

The new British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will also speak on Monday to plead in favor of the energy transition and defend the record of his country, which had chaired the last COP, where the objectives of the Paris agreement had been reaffirmed.

He assured that he would also discuss during his trip the case of the British-Egyptian political prisoner Alaa Abdel Fattah, on hunger strike and who, according to his family, stopped drinking on Sunday.

According to the NGO Human Rights Watch, the Egyptian authorities have arrested dozens of people calling for demonstrations on the sidelines of the COP and are restricting the possibility for climate activists to express themselves or demonstrate.

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