United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres told world leaders on Friday that the burning of fossil fuels must be stopped outright and a reduction or abatement in their use would not be enough to stop global warming.
“We cannot save a burning planet with a fire hose of fossil fuels,” Guterres said.
The 28th UNFCCC Conference of Parties commenced in Dubai’s Expo City on Thursday with 52,000 party delegates and 90,000 non-party delegates joining this year’s proceedings.
The summit opened with good news for poor nations struggling to cope with natural disasters, as delegates adopted the “loss and damage fund” to help the developing world bear the cost of climate-driven damages.
In a speech at the opening ceremony of the summit today, the UN chief said: “The 1.5-degree limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels. Not reduce. Not abate.”
He urged fossil fuel companies to invest in a transition to renewable energy sources and told governments to help by forcing that change — including through the use of windfall taxes on industry profits.
“I urge governments to help industry make the right choice by regulating, legislating, putting a fair price on carbon, ending fossil fuel subsidies, and adopting a windfall tax on profits,” he said.
Addressing the world leaders, Guterres asserted that climate justice was long over due and developing countries were being devastated by disasters they did not cause. “Extortionate borrowing costs are blocking their climate action plans and support is far too little, far too late.”
He went on to say that the climate challenge was not just another “issue to the inbox” but protecting the climate was the world’s “greatest test of leadership”.
“I urge you … make this COP count, make this COP a game changer, make this COP the newer hope in future of modern times,” the UN chief concluded.
Meanwhile, Britain’s King Charles said the world was “dreadfully far off track” on addressing climate change and that the global economy would be in peril unless the environment was rapidly repaired.
He told world leaders the dangers of climate change were no longer a distant risk, and urged them to take more action.
“I pray with all my heart that COP28 will be another critical turning point towards genuine transformational action,” he said, in reference to the 2021 summit held in France.
“We are seeing alarming tipping points being reached.”
Charles cited the impact of climate change globally, including floods in India and Pakistan and severe wildfires in the United States, Canada and Greece.
“Unless we rapidly repair and restore nature’s unique economy, based on harmony and balance, which is our ultimate sustainer, our own economy and survivability will be imperiled,” he said.
UAE president announces $30bn fund to bridge climate finance gap
Separately, United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed announced the establishment of a $30 billion climate fund for global climate solutions that it hopes will lead to $250 billion of investment by the end of the decade.
Dubbed ALTRRA, the fund will allocate $25 billion towards climate strategies and $5 billion specifically to incentivise investment flows into the Global South, according to a statement by the COP28 Presidency.
In collaboration with global asset managers BlackRock, Brookfield and TPG, ALTRRA has committed $6.5 billion to climate-dedicated funds for global investments, including the Global South, the statement said.
ALTRRA was established by Abu Dhabi-based alternate investment manager Lunate, and COP28 Director-General Majid Al Suwaidi will serve as ALTRRA’s chief executive officer.
PM Kakar joins world leaders at high-level summit
Earlier, caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar joined world leaders at the Dubai Expo City for the high-level segment at the summit.
According to a statement issued by the PM’s Office, the premier was received by the UAE president and Guterres upon arrival at the venue.
He also had an informal conversation with King Charles ahead of the segment and held a separate meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on the sidelines of the summit.
A statement released by the PMO said the two leaders discussed bilateral relations and exchanged views on international and regional issues of mutual interest, including the situation in Afghanistan. “They also discussed the evolving human rights and humanitarian situation in Gaza,” the statement said.
Kakar and his Dutch counterpart also appreciated the celebrations held in Islamabad and The Hague to mark 75 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year, it added.
The premier also underscored that Pakistan and the Netherlands should work together bilaterally as well as through the European Union on matters of mutual interest. He invited Dutch companies to invest in the areas of agriculture, horticulture, water management and renewable energy in Pakistan, the statement said.
Both the leaders expressed satisfaction on the upward trajectory in bilateral relations between Pakistan and the Netherlands, it said.
PM Kakar also highlighted the “importance of concrete outcome on climate action and referred to Pakistan’s climate vulnerabilities despite being one of the lowest carbons emitters,” it said, adding that Kakar also invited the Dutch prime minister to visit Pakistan.
PM Kakar is leading the Pakistani delegation in the high-level segment and will attend the World Climate Action Summit on Dec 1 and 2. Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani, Finance Minister Dr Shamshad Akhtar, Federal Minister for Climate Change Ahmed Irfan Aslam and Energy Minister Muhammad Ali are also participating in COP28.
Yesterday, the prime minister joined the chorus calling for the immediate operationalisation of the newly-approved fund, and called for its utilisation “on merit” to help states in need.
“If we wait for a UN framework it will take years [and] years. Therefore, initially it is possible to operationalise it under the World Bank and other multilateral entities,” a PM Office statement quoted him as telling CNN.
He said the utilisation of the fund should not be linked with development funds and loans from multilateral financial entities, rather the loss and damage funding should be in addition to these.
Currently, he said, Pakistan’s focus was on transformation from coal-based power plants to renewable energy projects.
“This is the area which could attract interest of countries here in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the settled economies and democracies on the Western side, so it is an opportunity for all of them and all of us,” he added.