Climate

COP28: What leaders say about the future of the planet

World leaders have been addressing delegates at the UN Climate Change conference in Dubai. Here’s what they said.

As this year’s UN climate conference gets underway in earnest, heads of state and government are addressing the world. Their speeches give an insight into what is at stake during the upcoming two weeks of negotiations.

Speakers at COP28 on Friday included Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, a leading oil producer, and Narendra Modi, prime minister of India, where sprawling cities suffer from worsening air pollution. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was among the first to address delegates.

Reiterating his message that unprecedented global heating is causing human suffering, he called on leaders to take urgent action.

“We cannot save a burning planet with a fire hose of fossil fuels … The 1.5 degree limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels,” Guterres said.

The phase-out of coal, oil and gas will be a defining issue at this year’s conference. Though the burning of fossil fuels is the prime cause of climate change, the 27 previous climate conferences have failed to deliver a commitment to phase them out in the long term.

Antonio Guterres made a renewed call for leaders to take urgent action

Guterres, who has long been a critic of oil, gas and coal, urged leaders to “help” industries commit to sustainable production. This can be achieved “by regulating, legislating, putting a fair price on carbon, ending fossil fuel subsidies, and adopting a windfall tax on profits,” he said.

He also called on fossil fuel companies to transition to renewable energy sources.
In parallel with the opening addresses, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was on hand at a roundtable talk in Dubai to officially launch the 36-member country Climate Club, which aims to “scale-up the lead markets for climate-neutral industrial products, such as climate-friendly steel, cement or aluminium,” said Scholz.

The German leader added that the club aims to set a standardized approach to calculating emissions intensities for hard-to-abate industries like cement and steel production. He added that once this work is done, they have the “greenprints” to decarbonize those sectors.

The members are “united by the shared conviction that climate change is the greatest challenge of the 21st century,” said Scholz.

Royal call for transformation

King Charles III of the United Kingdom said “I pray with all my heart that COP28 will be another critical turning point towards transformational action at a time when, already, as scientists have been warning for so long, we are seeing alarming tipping points being reached.”

King Charles III has long been vocal about the need to protect the natural world

His remarks came a day after the UN said 2023 was on track to become the hottest year recorded in human history.

“Unless we rapidly repair and restore nature’s economy, based on harmony and balance, which is our ultimate sustainer, our own economy and survivability will be imperiled,” said the British monarch.

Calls for climate justice from Brazil

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, home to most of the world’s biggest natural carbon-capture zone on land, the Amazon rainforest, said “the planet is tired of climate agreements that were not fulfilled.” He added that he has had enough of “eloquent and empty speeches.”

“In the north of Brazil, the Amazon region is suffering one of the most tragic droughts of its history. In the South, we are facing tempests and hurricanes that lead to a lot of destruction and death,” he said.

The Brazil president described climate impacts in the Amazon

Lula called for climate justice for poorer nations that didn’t cause the problem and said the $2 trillion spent on weapons last year could instead be spent on fighting hunger and climate change. He said Brazil will stop Amazon deforestation by 2030.

Indian leader invokes ‘unity’ and offers to host COP33

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said every nation must “work in unity” to achieve their climate targets, while also asking developing countries to consume “a fair share” of the global carbon budget.

“Today the entire world is watching us. Mother Earth is looking towards us to protect her future. We have to succeed,” he said.

The leader of the world’s most populous country that also hosted a G20 summit this year, offered to host UN climate summit.

“From this platform today, I propose that India will host COP33 in 2028,” he said.

‘This COP can make history,’ says EU head

“In Dubai we have to deliver,” said Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, adding that emissions “must peak by 2025” and that “we must phase out fossil fuels.”

But she also spoke to the importance of loss and damage at this year’s COP.

“We will take a decisive step forward to protect the most vulnerable citizens worldwide,” she said of those most impacted by climate extremes who suffer increasing “loss and damage.”

“We will stand by their side,” she added, and committed €270 million from the EU to the loss and damage fund that was launched at COP28.

Ursula van der Leyen wants delegates to agree to triple renewable energy by 2030

Von der Leyen said some progress had been made on emissions, with the EU having already peaked and on track to “overshoot” its greenhouse gas reduction targets and having adopted a law to “drastically reduce” methane emissions.

She said a call by the EU to triple the production of renewable energy and double energy efficiency by 2030 should be adopted in the final COP28 decision.

“This COP can make history,” she insisted, saying the “the future of energy will be green, will be affordable, and it will be homegrown.”

Macron: Both developed and emerging economies must decarbonize

“The top priority is that developed countries must phase out fossil fuels,” said French President Emmanuel Macron, adding that his country has a “plan” and a “strategy” to achieve the goal though clean energy including “nuclear, hydrogen and renewables.”

Continued investment in coal — the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel — was “truly an absurdity,” he said while urging G7 nations to set an example and “commit to putting an end to coal” by 2030.

He said emerging countries also need “to phase out carbon,” and any efforts to improve economic performance cannot rely on fossil fuels.

Source: dw.com



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