The head of the United Nations, Secretary-General António Guterres, opened COP27, the UN’s annual climate change conference, by calling for urgent and drastic climate action to limit global warming.
“We are in the fight of our lives and we are losing,” he said on Monday Nov. 7, addressing more than 100 world leaders in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, where the conference is being held this year.
Calling climate change “the defining issue of our age,” Guterres said it was “unacceptable, outrage and self-defeating” to put the issue on the back burner in the face of events such as the the war in Ukraine.
He underscored the fact that climate change was linked to the crises of war, unrest and hunger – and the fact that the world was not acting fast enough to limit global temperature rise to 1.5˚C.
“We are on the highway to climate hell, with our foot still on the accelerator,” he said.
He said the Global North and Global South needed to work together over the next two weeks to work together to create a “historic pact” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or face irreversible climate chaos.
“We can sign a climate solidarity pact, or a collective suicide pact,” he added.
Guterres also addressed the issue of funding for loss and damage from climate change, which is on the official agenda for the conference for the first time, saying that it could no longer be ignored.
“The deadly impacts of climate change are here and now,” he said. “Loss and damage can no longer be swept under the rug. It is a moral imperative. It is a fundamental question of international solidarity and climate justice.”