United Nations, New York, USA, October 27, 2021 – Abdulla Shahid, President of the seventy-sixth session of the United Nations General Assembly, addresses the high-level thematic debate on Delivering Climate Action: for People, Planet & Prosperity Today at the UN Headquarters in New York City.
Photo: Luiz Rampelotto/EuropaNewswire
The Presidents of Palau and Maldives urged climate financing and collective efforts
by Anna Serafini
NEW YORK, 26 October 2021 – “The climate crisis is a code red for humanity. In six days, world leaders will be put to the test at COP26 in Glasgow. Their actions – or inactions – will show their seriousness about addressing this planetary emergency”. UN Secretary-General António Guterres rang the alarm bells once again on climate change today, in his remarks to the High-Level Meeting on Delivering Climate Action – for People, Planet & Prosperity. Convened today by the President of the General Assembly Abdulla Shahid, the meeting focused on taking stocks of current and required actions to achieve the 1.5 degrees target, increasing political support for climate finance, and building momentum ahead of the G20 and COP26.
“We see new evidence today in the Emissions Gap Report that governments’ actions so far simply do not add up to what is so desperately needed. We are still on track for a global temperature rise of 2.7 degrees Celsius, a far cry from the 1.5 degrees Celsius target to which the world agreed under the Paris Agreement”, continued Guterres. Four days prior to the beginning of the Rome summit, his call is clear: “If governments – especially G20 governments – do not stand up and lead this effort, we are headed for terrible human suffering. But all countries need to realize that the old, carbon-burning model of development is a death sentence for their economies and for our planet”.
The UN Secretary-General called on businesses, investors, individuals in their capacity as consumers and young activists to reduce their climate impact, work for a net-zero future, make choices accordingly and press for action. He also called on public and multilateral development banks to “significantly increase their climate portfolios” and urged the developed countries to meet their commitment of at least $100 billion in annual climate finance for developing nations. Finally, he reiterated his call for donors and development banks to “devote at least 50 percent of their climate support towards adaptation and resilience in the developing world.”
The need to mobilize climate finance in support of developing countries was also stressed by Mr. Shahid, the organizer of the high-level meeting. “We have not reached the goal of $100 billion per year in climate financing and the developed nations are set to be three years late in meeting the pledge”, he said, adding that “our efforts must be aimed at not only going beyond the pledge but also guaranteeing at least $1 trillion in support to develop countries by 2030”.
A national of the Maldives, “a country whose very existence is threatened by rising sea levels”, the President of the General Assembly asked that climate change remain the world’s highest priority, also noting that “the pandemic ate up resources that could have been used for climate action”. COVID-19 has exacerbated challenges for many of the countries most affected by climate change and added that “a further extension of the debt service suspension initiative by one more year would tremendously benefit the cause of the LDCs, LLDCs, and the SIDS.”
Reminding that the Maldives and other small island states have been sounding the warning bells for years and that he had previously warned the General Assembly off the path the world is on now, President Ibrahim Solih added: “I know the fate of small islands today is the fate of the world tomorrow. The time to act is now.” The country has taken ambitious measures to achieve Net Zero by 2030, he said, “but we are under no illusion that Net Zero from small countries will be enough. What is required is big economies working aggressively to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Surangel S. Whipps, Jr., President of the Republic of Palau, warned that the climate threat is already a devastating reality for many vulnerable countries and stressed that “the Pacific SIDS contribute just 0.03% of the global emissions level, but the emissions gap has only been narrowed by 11-14%”. He also addressed climate resources: “Only 20% of climate financing has gone towards adaptation; of that, only 2% went to SIDS, and about half of those funds were only available as loans”. Mr. Whipps continued to notice that “in 2020, the World Bank recommended an annual $4 trillion in investments to adequately address global climate change needs. Sadly, the largest emitters only committed $100 billion, which is 2.5% of that target. To date, they have contributed only $66 billion or 1.65% of the target.” Palau’s President closed his statement with a local proverb: “When in a canoe, we have to paddle together in unison in order to go far”.
More than 70 speakers – representatives of UN bodies, world leaders, and businessmen – participated in the day-long meeting.