United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday said the world is on a “highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator” in opening remarks at the COP27 climate change summit in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt.
Guterres warned the clock was ticking in the fight to stop the most disastrous effects of climate change and that the world is “losing” as greenhouse gas emissions and global temperatures continue to rise.
“Our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible. We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator,” Guterres said. “It is the defining issue of our age. It is the central challenge of our century. It is unacceptable, outrageous and self-defeating to put it on the back burner.”
The COP27 conference began on Sunday , with world leaders gathering once again to discuss how to limit greenhouse gas emissions and prevent the world from warming to global average temperatures of 1.5 degrees Celsius, a mark already fast approaching.
The COP26 conference last year saw promises made to slash emissions from leading nations but few policies in place to achieve them .
The conference also comes amid a historic drought in the U.S., deadly heat waves and catastrophic flooding in Pakistan, a sign that the disastrous effects of climate change are already here.
World leaders are expected to talk target goals to reduce emissions while also discussing the idea of wealthy countries paying climate reparations to poorer nations.
Guterres on Monday said world crises, such as the war in Ukraine, are further complicating the fight against climate change, but that nations should not deter from addressing “climate chaos.”
“Indeed, many of today’s conflicts are linked with growing climate chaos. The war in Ukraine has exposed the profound risks of our fossil fuel addiction,” he said. “Today’s crises cannot be an excuse for backsliding or greenwashing. If anything, they are a reason for greater urgency, stronger action and effective accountability.”
The U.S. passed the Inflation Reduction Act over the summer, which includes around $369 billion to implement clean energy. The White House said that investment puts the nation on track to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 2005 levels in 2030.
But the U.S. would still need more commitments to meet a net-zero emissions goal by 2050.
Guterres called for a “Climate Solidarity Pact” between developed and emerging nations that includes phasing out coal-powered plants by 2040 and an “extra effort” to meet target goals.
“It is either a Climate Solidarity Pact — or a Collective Suicide Pact,” Guterres said. “Humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish. “