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New York: Earth’s vital signs are failing and to prevent planetary crash and burn, “we need…cooperation and political will”, UN Secretary General António Guterres said on Friday, challenging world leaders gathered in Dubai for COP28 to show real global climate leadership.
The UN chief delivered his impassioned appeal at the high-level opening of the Global Climate Action Summit, which will see world leaders and Heads of State and Government taking centre stage for the next two days in the Al Waha Theatre in Dubai’s iconic Expo City.
Warning that “humanity’s fate is hanging in the balance”, the Secretary-General said world leaders must act now to end the climate catastrophe.
“This is a sickness only you, global leaders, can cure,” he said, calling on the leaders to end the world’s dependence on fossil fuels and to fulfill the long overdue promise for climate justice.
Mr. Guterres also welcomed the breakthrough achieved Thursday on the opening day of COP28 after delegates reached a deal on the operationalization a fund for loss and damage to help the world’s most vulnerable countries pay for the devastating impacts of climate disaster.
Buzz around the venue
Expo City, the venue for the climate talks, is buzzing with activity amid the tight security on the second day of COP28, as world’s leaders started arriving for the Action Summit.
Over the next two days, leaders from over 160 countries are expected to outline their vision for tackling the climate crisis, including from Brazil, the United Kingdom, France, Turkiye and India.
Dubai, the largest city in the United Arab Emirates, is well-known for its extremely hot weather. While December is normally a relatively pleasant month, hundreds of reporters, photographers and civil society delegates have been jostling for space in Expo City’s shady spots to catch a break from the scorching sun.
Indigenous peoples are on the frontline of climate change impacts and their representatives are very active – and vocal – at COP28. Earlier on Friday UN News ran into Jacob Johns, who says he’s working to inform climate policy with indigenous knowledge.
“We are here to shift the hearts and minds of conference goers and the negotiating teams so that we live in solidarity with a healthy, livable future,” said Mr. Johns, who is Hopi and Akimel O’odham, and a member of the US-based Indigenous Wisdom Keepers delegation.
“We want to see real climate action… We want to see funding going into climate justice and the loss and damage fund. We want all these funds to be available to indigenous people who are suffering at the impending climate collapse, with land loss and extreme weather events,” he told us.
United in crisis
In his remarks to the Action Summit, the Secretary-General recalled to his recent trips to Antarctica and Nepal, pointing out how he witnessed first-hand the scale and extent of melting ice and glaciers.
“These two spots are far in distance, but united in crisis,” said Mr. Guterres.
He cautioned though that this is just one symptom of the sickness bringing our climate to its knees.
Painting a worrisome picture of ongoing climate chaos, the UN chief said global heating is busting budgets, ballooning food prices, upending energy markets, and feeding a cost-of-living crisis.
“We are miles from the goals of the Paris Agreement – and minutes to midnight for the 1.5-degree limit.”