The head of the United Nations warned that ‘we will perish without a historic climate agreement’ Cope27

Rich countries must sign a “historic agreement” with the poor on climate or “we will be lost,” warned UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, as the deep divide between rich and developing countries put climate talks on the brink.

It’s a stark warning as world leaders begin to gather for the UN’s Cop27 climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on Sunday, but it’s a stark warning that the hosts admit will be the toughest in at least a decade.

Cop27 is taking place amid years of heightened geopolitical tensions, the war in Ukraine, rising global living costs and deepening economic gloom.

But the gulf must be bridged if humanity is to hope to avert the worst climate catastrophe, Guterres said.

“If it’s both, there’s no way we can avoid a worst-case scenario. [the developed and developing world] They failed to form a historic agreement,” he told the Guardian in an interview on the eve of the summit. Because at our current level we are doomed.

Developed countries have not been able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions fast enough, and poor countries have been unable to provide the funds needed to deal with extreme weather. The stark climate imbalance between the rich world, which is responsible for most of the emissions, and the poor, which bear the brunt of the problems, is now the biggest issue in the discussion, Guterres said.

“Current policies [on the climate] It will be an absolute disaster,” he said. “The reality is that we cannot change this situation unless there is an agreement between developed countries and developing economies.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres Photo: David D. Delgado/Reuters

Guterres has drawn criticism from some quarters for his outspokenness on the climate crisis, warning of “collective suicide”, “massacre” and a “code red” for humanity.

But he insists he refuses to water down his doomsday language as the rapidly accelerating climate emergency is now so serious.

“We are approaching tipping points for a simple reason, and it brings important points [climate breakdown] Irreversible,” he said. “That damage will not allow us to recover and contain the warming. And as we approach those tipping points, we need to raise our urgency, raise our ambitions, and rebuild trust, primarily between North and South.”

Tipping points are thresholds in the climate system that lead to sudden impacts. They include melting permafrost that releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that fuels continuous warming, and scientists fear that the tipping point at which the Amazon rainforest turns from a sink to a sink for carbon is fast approaching.

“We are approaching tipping points that will have irreversible impacts, some of which are difficult to even predict,” he warned.

He also called for the United States and China to rebuild their relationship, which fell to a new low this year, but Guterres said it was “crucial” for climate action. “It must be re-established because if the two countries work together, it will be impossible to reverse the current trend,” he said.

Guterres, along with the Egyptian government, will gather world leaders at the start of the COP27 summit to try to salvage the hopeless climate negotiations. This year’s war in Ukraine has seen geopolitical tensions rise, with rising fossil fuel prices and rising food prices driving up the cost of living around the world, while governments – including the UK – have gone into recession. The promises made at last year’s Cop26 meeting in Glasgow.

The deal Guterres has in mind would require major economies to do more to cut greenhouse gas emissions and provide financial aid to poorer countries. This was needed to restore “trust,” he said.

A lack of trust, in climate negotiations, means a lack of money. By 2020, developed countries are expected to provide at least $100 billion annually to help poor countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of the climate crisis.

But the target has been repeatedly missed and will not be missed again this year, poor countries are already suffering from climate disasters, including floods in Pakistan and drought in Africa.

A “historic deal” between rich and poor includes clear new commitments to finance and strengthen their emissions reduction targets for rich countries and developing economies, he said.

It also seeks progress on the vexed question of “disappearance and harm” which will be flashed at Cop27. Destruction and damage refers to extreme weather, which is impossible to adapt to, and poor countries need financial assistance to rescue and rebuild countries whose physical and social infrastructure has been destroyed by climate. danger.

“The question of loss and damage has been postponed and postponed and postponed,” Guterres said. “We need to ensure that there is accountability and effective support for countries that are experiencing the most dramatic loss and destruction.”

He pointed out that developed countries have been able to collect 16tn dollars to prevent the covid-19 epidemic. But there wasn’t even debt relief to help poor countries with the complex effects of Covid, the cost of living, the climate and the strong dollar.

“There is a sense of frustration. [in the developing world] It is true and it deserves a response,” he said. In recent months, he has called a windfall tax on bonanza oil and gas companies, a call he repeats in Sharm el-Sheikh.

At last year’s summit in Glasgow, countries agreed to reduce pre-industrial temperatures to 1.5C.

Gutierrez said the chances of holding the target are slim. “We still have a chance, but we’re losing it fast,” he said. “The 1.5C is in high maintenance, and I’d say the machines are rocking. So either we act immediately and in a very strong way, or it is lost and probably lost forever.

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