At the world climate conference in Egypt, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned in somber words about the catastrophic consequences of global warming. "We are on the highway to climate hell - with our foot on the accelerator," Guterres said in a speech to dozens of heads of state and government in Sharm el-Sheikh on Monday.
"We are fighting the fight of our lives - and we are about to lose," he warned, referring to the droughts, floods, storms and rising sea levels caused by the climate crisis.
Guterres warned that the goal agreed at the 2015 World Climate Conference in Paris of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels is in acute jeopardy. The Portuguese called for a "climate solidarity pact" that wealthy countries now have to conclude with emerging and developing countries. The United States and China are particularly responsible for this. Literally, he said, "Humanity has a choice: work together or perish!"
On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and Emirati President Mohammed bin Sajid attended this year's world climate conference, known as COP27. Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi opened the summit segment of the two-week conference.
A "world of suffering"
"There are great expectations for good results," said Al-Sisi. "Millions of people around the planet have their eyes on us." The consequences of climate-related weather events have never been as devastating as they are today. "We've seen one disaster after another. Once we deal with one disaster, another arises - wave after wave." The earth has turned into a "world of suffering," said Al-Sisi.
The global average temperature was recently estimated to be around 1.15 degrees above the pre-industrial average. Beyond the limit of 1.5 degrees, dangerous tipping points threaten to be exceeded, with potentially catastrophic consequences.
Chancellor Scholz also expected a speech
Speeches by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the new British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif are expected on Monday and Tuesday. US President Joe Biden wants to attend the UN conference on Friday. African Union President Macky Sall described the meeting as an opportunity "to make history or become a victim of history".
Around 45,000 participants are registered at the World Climate Conference, most of them as delegates from countries. In Sharm el Sheikh on the Red Sea, representatives from almost 200 countries will spend two weeks discussing how the fight against global warming can be intensified. The new COP27 President Samih Schukri warned that all climate protection measures must be taken on a common basis.
Von der Leyen: Climate change greatest challenge
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wrote on Twitter: "We face many challenges, but climate change is the biggest." The COP27 is about fulfilling promises made. "We must do everything we can to keep 1.5 degrees within reach."
The World Trade Organization (WTO) proposed reducing the carbon footprint of global trade through lower tariffs and more climate-friendly transport of goods. The liberalization of trade in sustainable energy technology and environmentally friendly products could reduce global emissions of the greenhouse gas CO2 by around 0.6 percent, the WTO calculated in this year's world trade report, which was presented at the COP27 on Monday.
"Trade is one of the missing pieces of the puzzle for more ambitious and effective climate action," said WTO chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in Sharm el Sheikh. The report highlighted that the production and transport of export goods is responsible for nearly 30 percent of global CO2 emissions.