The fight of our lives

Climate change is the defining issue of our age. It is the central challenge of our century.

In just days, our planet’s population will cross a new threshold.

The 8 billionth member of our human family will be born.

How will we answer when “Baby 8 Billion” is old enough to ask: What did you do for our world — and for our planet — when you had the chance?

This UN Climate Conference is a reminder that the answer is in our hands.

We are in the fight of our lives. And we are losing.

Greenhouse gas emissions keep growing. Global temperatures keep rising. And 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.

The war in Ukraine, other conflicts, have caused so much bloodshed and violence and have had dramatic impacts all over the world. But we cannot accept that our attention is not focused on climate change.

We must of course work together to support peace efforts and end the tremendous suffering. But climate change is on a different timeline, and a different scale.

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.

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.

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.

Human activity is the cause of the climate problem. So human action must be the solution.

Action to re-establish ambition. And action to rebuild trust — especially between North and South.

The science is clear: Any hope of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees means achieving global net zero emissions by 2050. But that 1.5-degree goal is on life support — and the machines are rattling.
We are getting dangerously close to the point of no return.

And to avoid that dire fate, all G20 countries must accelerate their transition now — in this decade.

Developed countries must take the lead. But emerging economies are also critical to bending the global emissions curve.

That is why at the beginning of COP27, I am calling for a historic Pact between developed and emerging economies — a Climate Solidarity Pact.

A Pact in which all countries make an extra effort to reduce emissions this decade in line with the 1.5-degree goal.

A Pact in which wealthier countries and International Financial Institutions provide financial and technical assistance to help emerging economies speed their own renewable energy transition.

A Pact to end dependence on fossil fuels and the building of new coal plants — phasing out coal in OECD countries by 2030 and everywhere else by 2040.

A Pact that will provide universal, affordable, sustainable energy for all.

A Pact in which developed and emerging economies unite around a common strategy and combine capacities and resources for the benefit of humankind.

The two largest economies — the United States and China — have a particular responsibility to join efforts to make this Pact a reality.

This is our only hope of meeting our climate goals.

Humanity has a choice: Cooperate or perish.

It is either a Climate Solidarity Pact — or a Collective Suicide Pact.

We also desperately need progress on adaptation — to build resilience to the climate disruption to come.

Today, some three-and-a-half billion people live in countries highly vulnerable to climate impacts.

Adaptation needs are set to grow to more than $300 billion dollars a year by 2030. Half of all climate finance must flow to adaptation.

At the same time, we must acknowledge a harsh truth: There is no adapting to a growing number of catastrophic events causing enormous suffering around the world.

Those who contributed least to the climate crisis are reaping the whirlwind sown by others. Many are blindsided by impacts for which they had no warning or means of preparation.

It is time for international solidarity across the board.

Solidarity that respects all human rights and guarantees a safe space for environmental defenders and all actors in society to contribute to our climate response. Let’s not forget that the war on nature is in itself a massive violation of human rights.

The global climate fight will be won or lost in this crucial decade — on our watch.

So let’s fight together— and let’s win.

For the 8 billion members of our human family — and for generations to come.


Excerpts from remarks to the High-Level opening of COP27.

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