The World Leaders Summit at the UN Climate Change Conference, known as COP27, kicked off Monday in Egypt, where UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned that the earth is on a “highway to climate hell,” and framed the battle to stop climate change as a battle of human survival.
"Greenhouse gas emissions keep growing," Guterres remarked. "Global temperatures keep rising. And our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible. We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator."
You can watch his remarks in the video below.
COP27 presents an opportunity for all stakeholders to come together to find concrete solutions to the global climate emergency, including on mitigation, adaptation and resilience, loss and damage and climate finance.
One climate finance concept known as “loss and damage” is expected to be center stage at the summit. Loss and damage is the idea that wealthy countries, having emitted the most planet-warming gases, should pay poorer countries who are now suffering from climate disasters they had little to no participation in creating.
This idea isn't popular with developed countries. Rich countries, including the United States, fear that agreeing to a loss and damage fund could open them up to legal liability. And European countries worry they'll be left holding the bag if a new U.S. president pulls out of a loss and damage fund.
Former Vice President Al Gore also criticized global leaders directly, saying they have a "credibility problem," given that developed countries are still hunting for gas resources in Africa. He called this "fossil fuel colonialism."
"We have a credibility problem all of us: We're talking and we're starting to act, but we're not doing enough," Gore said.
Pakistan is among the nations calling for the creation of a loss and damage fund to aid them after enduring both a deadly heat wave and the worst floods in history, which have both occurred this year. Pakistan is responsible for less than one percent of the world’s planet-warming emissions.
The Pakistani government conducted an internationally supported study in October that found the recent catastrophic floods in Pakistan have inflicted more than $30 billion in damages and economic losses. "Given Pakistan's limited fiscal resources, significant international support and private investment will be essential for a comprehensive and resilient recovery," the assessment said.
The annual Climate Change Conference is scheduled to continue until November 18th, with most world leaders planning to attend for one to two more days. The topic of loss and damage will be debated, and undoubtedly the climate crisis in Pakistan will be a hot topic.
"Climate security goes hand in hand with energy security, Putin's abhorrent war in Ukraine, and rising energy prices across the world are not a reason to go slow on climate change," remarked new British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. "They are a reason to act faster."