Our Planet Still In The Emergency Room-UN

By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja

The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres who has commended the COP27 agreement to fund ‘loss and damage” for vulnerable countries hit hard by climate disasters has said the planet is still in the emergency room

Speaking in his remarks, to conclude COP27 in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt today, the Secretary-General stressed the need to drastically reduce emissions now.

In his words “But let’s be clear, our planet is still in the Emergency Room. We need to drastically reduce emissions now – and this is an issue this COP did not address.  

Noting that the COP had taken an important step towards justice, he welcomed the decision to establish a loss and damage fund and to operationalize it in the coming period.  Clearly, this will not be enough, but it is a much-needed political signal to rebuild broken trust.   The voices of those on the front of the climate crisis must be heard.

The UN Secretary General while thanking the hosts – the Egyptian government and COP27 President Sameh Shoukry – for their hospitality, also recognized Simon Stiell and the United Nations Climate Change team for all their efforts also paid tribute to the delegates and members of civil society who came to Sharm el-Sheikh to push leaders for real climate action.

Noting that COP27 took place not far from Mount Sinai, a site that is central to many faiths and to the story of Moses, or Musa, he said it’s fitting.  Climate chaos is a crisis of biblical proportions. The signs are everywhere.  Instead of a burning bush, we face a burning planet.  

From the beginning, this conference has been driven by two overriding themes:  justice and ambition. Justice for those on the frontlines who did so little to cause the crisis – including the victims of the recent floods in Pakistan that inundated one-third of the country.  

Ambition to keep the 1.5 degree limit alive and pull humanity back from the climate cliff. 

He further charged that Justice should also mean several other things including: Finally making good on the long-delayed promise of $100 billion a year in climate finance for developing countries; Clarity and a credible roadmap to double adaptation finance; changing the business models of multilateral development banks and international financial institutions. 

“A fund for loss and damage is essential – but it’s not an answer if the climate crisis washes a small island state off the map – or turns an entire African country to desert. The world still needs a giant leap in climate ambition.

The red line we must not cross is the line that takes our planet over the 1.5-degree temperature limit. To have any hope of keeping to 1.5, we need to massively invest in renewables and end our addiction to fossil fuels, Guterres stressed

He added that “We must avoid an energy scramble in which developing countries finish last – as they did in the race for COVID-19 vaccines. Further noting that doubling down on fossil fuels is double trouble. 

“The Just Energy Transition Partnerships are important pathways to accelerate the phasing out of coal and scaling up renewables.  But we need much more.  That’s why I am pushing so hard for a Climate Solidarity Pact. They must accept more risk and systematically leverage private finance for developing countries at reasonable costs.

We need all hands on deck to drive justice and ambition.  This also includes an ambition to end the suicidal war on nature that is fueling the climate crisis, driving species to extinction, and destroying ecosystems. 

COP27 concludes with much homework and little time.   We are already halfway between the Paris Climate Agreement and the 2030 deadline. 

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