‘Rise above Geopolitical Divides, Rebuild Trust between Developed, Developing States’, Says Deputy Secretary-General, at Climate Change Conference Event

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks on the occasion of the opening of the pre-twenty-eighth Conference of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), in Abu Dhabi today:

Let me start by expressing appreciation to the incoming COP28 President-designate Sultan al Jaber for convening us at a critical juncture on the journey to COP28.

This meeting is taking place amidst the ongoing violence taking place in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in Gaza, which is taking an unbearable toll on civilians, especially women and children.  I reiterate the appeal made by the Secretary-General for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

We all know that this meeting is also taking place amidst a full-blown climate crisis.  This year is on track to be the hottest on record.  Every continent and every region is feeling the effects.

Personally, I stood on melting glaciers in Iceland two weeks ago.  A frightening reality.  Floods, droughts, wildfires and storms are becoming more frequent, more ferocious and more deadly around the world and the most vulnerable are suffering the most.

Countless lives and livelihoods are being lost.  Economic damages are mounting up, exceeding the ability of countries and communities to cope.  Even rich countries now find entire regions are uninsurable.  And the window to avert the worst — to limit warming to 1.5°C is rapidly closing.  But, it is still open — just.  That is the crucial point.  And so, there is every reason to still be hopeful.  And every reason to act urgently.

We have never been clearer about what needs to be done, by whom and by when.  We have the tools and the technology, and therefore have no excuse not to deliver. The price of renewables has never been cheaper, and they have never been more accessible.  The solutions are in the hands of us all.

What we need is the political will, finance and courage to roll them out at the pace, and at the scale this crisis demands.  And to move the trillions of dollars in the financial system that are either sitting on the sidelines or invested in carbon pollution, into scaling up investments in the renewables and other clean energy solutions.

We need to rise above geopolitical divides.  And we need to rebuild trust between developed and developing countries.

COP28 is a critical milestone for the Paris Agreement — it marks the end of the first Global Stocktake.  This critical mechanism of the Paris Agreement is there to enable us do things with urgency.  First, we must honestly assess progress made in achieving the Paris Agreement goals on mitigation, finance and adaptation.  And second, to identify what more needs to be done to close the gaps.

The decision adopted by the parties under the Global Stocktake will be the most consequential outcome for COP28.  It needs to be consistent with the science. It must be specific on what needs to be done — by countries and by non-State actors; now, over the rest of the decade and beyond.  And it must signal clearly that equity, cooperation and accelerated climate action go hand in hand — and that all must be strengthened urgently.

The Secretary-General’s Acceleration Agenda would inform an ambitious, credible and forward-looking Global Stocktake.  This asks countries to hit fast-forward button on their net-zero deadlines.  So that developed countries get there as close as possible to 2040.  And emerging economies as close as possible to 2050.

The Acceleration Agenda also urges countries to accelerate a just and equitable transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.  Specifically, it asks Governments to end coal — by 2030 for Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries and 2040 for the rest of the world; to end fossil fuel subsidies.  And to put a fair and effective price on carbon.

The Secretary General has also called on all G20 [Group of 20] nations to heed the International Energy Agency’s (IAEA) findings that new oil and gas licensing is incompatible with keeping the 1.5°C limit alive.  Every sector — especially high-emitting sectors such as shipping, aviation, steel, cement, aluminium, agriculture — must be aligned with net-zero by 2050, with clear plans including interim targets to get there.

And we need clear action on finance.  This is essential to build trust between developed and developing countries.  Developed countries must finally deliver the $100 billion for developing country climate action, as promised.  Double adaptation finance by 2025, as promised, from $20 billion a year to $40 billion a year by 2025.  And finalize the global goal on adaptation to enable us to massively scale up action and investments in adaptation.  And replenish the Green Climate Fund to a record new level, as promised.  I urge those developed countries that are yet to pledge to the Fund to announce your contributions ahead of COP28.

All countries must work to operationalize the loss and damage fund this year.  I urge ministers to provide their representatives on the committee working to design this fund with the flexibility and guidance they need to wrap up its work this week in Abu Dhabi.  And ensure universal early warning coverage by 2027.

The Climate Ambition Summit convened by the Secretary-General in New York last month clearly demonstrated that the ambition needed is practical, possible and achievable.  But, we need all countries to act.  And to deliver a strong response to the Global Stocktake.

I wish you productive deliberations.  The stakes could not be higher.  Climate chaos has begun.  You can stop it getting unimaginably worse.  And protect those communities on the front-line.  Keeping the promise of the Paris Agreement.  Please, do it.

For information media. Not an official record.