Sunday, December 4, 2022

UN chief calls for rich countries to agree ‘climate solidarity pact’

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The head of the UN has called for a new “climate solidarity pact” in which rich countries would help poorer nations financially, singling out the US and China, saying they had a “particular responsibility” to make it a reality.

UN secretary-general António Guterres said the international financial system should be reformed to support lower income countries that were burdened by debt and which needed money to recover from natural disasters.

All countries should make an “extra effort” to cut emissions and end the building of coal plants, he told the opening session of world leaders at COP27.

“The two largest economies — the United States and China — have a particular responsibility to join efforts to make this pact a reality,” he said.

Humanity must “co-operate or perish”, he added. “We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.”

China’s president Xi Jinping is skipping COP27, though the country has sent a delegation of negotiators. Other missing leaders from fossil fuel dependent nations are Narendra Modi of India, Anthony Albanese of Australia and Justin Trudeau of Canada.

US president Joe Biden is due to arrive in Egypt later this week after the midterm elections on Tuesday. His climate envoy John Kerry is trying to build support for a system in which governments would earn credits for cutting their power sector’s emissions, which companies could then buy to offset their own output.

French president Emmanuel Macron told the UN climate summit that the Ukraine war should not change plans to limit global warming. He said he recognised the “injustices” of climate risks and impacts around the world, and called for multilateral institutions such as the World Bank and IMF to do more to support vulnerable nations and catalyse private sector investment.

The spring meeting of the IMF would mark a “practical step” in the reform of the Bretton Woods institutions, Macron added. “We cannot wait until the next COP.”

Barbadian prime minister Mia Mottley doubled down on a push for rich countries to do more to help developing nations suffering the consequences of climate change.

“How many more countries must falter?” Mottley said. She called for more “concessional funding” for emerging nations, and the creation of a “climate mitigation trust” that would use $5bn in IMF special drawing rights to “unlock” $5tn in private capital.

Former UK prime minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that the UK did not have the financial resources to pay “reparations” to low-income countries.

Johnson said climate action had been “one of the most important collateral victims” of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Per capita, people in the UK put a lot of carbon in the atmosphere,” he said. “But what we cannot do I’m afraid is make up for that with some sort of reparations, we simply do not have the financial resources.”

His successor, Rishi Sunak, told the COP27 meeting that the UK would triple its funding on “adaptation” projects to cope with more extreme weather events to £1.5bn by 2025.

Guterres also launched a plan for a global early warning system for extreme weather events, a project that he said would cost $3.1bn over its first five years. The money would be spent on data collection and analysis, forecasting, building response capabilities and informing people about risks.

It would ensure that everyone on the planet was reached by advance warnings about extremes such as hurricanes and heatwaves. Countries with warning systems have been able to limit death rates despite ever-increasing damage to property and infrastructure.

The plan, drawn up by groups including the World Meteorological Organization, noted that half of countries globally do not have early warning systems in place.

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