It’s a grim outlook for the future as “humanity has opened the gates to hell”, according to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ opening remarks at the U.N. Climate Ambition Summit this week.
With the annual U.N. climate summit, COP28, due to take place in November and December in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Guterres implored national policymakers to step up efforts to phase out the use of climate-warming fossil fuels.
“The move from fossil fuels to renewables is happening – but we are decades behind,” Guterres said at the start of the one-day summit. “We must make up for time lost to foot-dragging, arm-twisting and the naked greed of entrenched interests raking in billions from fossil fuels.”
Thirty-four countries recognized for taking strong action on climate change were due to speak, including Canada, the European Union, Pakistan, South Africa and the island nation of Tuvalu.
‘Every right to be angry
“Many of the poorest nations have every right to be angry – angry that they are suffering most from a climate crisis they did nothing to create, angry that promised finance has not materialized, and angry that their borrowing costs are sky-high,” Guterres said.
Kenyan President William Ruto urged a universal tax on fossil fuel trade, levies on aviation and maritime emissions and on financial transactions to raise trillions of dollars. “Neither Africa nor the developing world stands in need of charity from developed countries,” Ruto said.
Guterres said he hoped the one-day U.N. mini-summit would inspire more investment and action by countries and companies to bring their climate plans in line with a global target of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
Climate funds and insurance
The climate summit was also set to hear from several international financial institutions, including the global travel insurer Allianz, multilateral lending agencies including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and the U.S. state of California.
The U.N.’s Green Climate Fund for disbursing climate finance to developing countries also said it planned to launch a new initiative during the event.
Lloyd’s of London is teaming up with the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) to try and improve access to insurance for climate-vulnerable countries, with an initial focus on Fiji and Pacific island countries.
Climate change is happening faster and causing more damage than scientists had predicted, accelerating the need for countries and communities to get help that can cushion the financial blow. But far too little money is being spent on protecting populations and many have limited access to support.
U.N. oceans treaty
Elsewhere, a new U.N. treaty to protect the world’s oceans is expected to be signed by dozens of countries – another step in the efforts to reverse the damage done to fragile marine environments by overfishing and other human activities.
The global pact to conserve biodiversity on the high seas was finally agreed in March and formally adopted by the U.N. in June. It is seen as a crucial tool to meet a target agreed last year to protect 30% of the earth’s land and sea by 2030, known as “30 by 30”.
The agreement will create ocean sanctuaries where fishing will be prohibited and ensure human activity on the high seas is subject to environmental impact assessments.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimates that $500 million in funding will be required to kickstart the treaty, and a special implementation and capacity-building fund could require another $100 million per year.