Leaders of world’s largest emitters a no-show at COP27

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Approximately 90 world leaders are attending COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt from November 6 to 18, 2022. However, key figureheads from some of the globe’s most polluting States are not on the list of attendees.

Significantly, the world’s largest emitter, China, has no intention of showing up. Japan, India, Australia, and Canada will also follow suit. Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin who continues to wage a war in Ukraine, has also confirmed that he would not be at the COP talks but, a delegation of his is present.

The actions of the foregoing leaders evoke concern about the impact on COP27 discussions and commitments. But they are not altogether surprising for industry stakeholders, especially when one considers that Russia, China, and India in particular, have no intention to meet the Paris Agreement objective to achieve net zero status by 2050. These three powerhouses plan to do so by at least, a decade later.

Despite their absence, it did not stop United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres from reminding, once again, that doom is inevitable for the Earth if nations do not band together and do what is necessary to save lives.

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During the COP27 opening, Guterres said, “…the clock is ticking. We are in the fight of our lives…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 UN Secretary-General said it is unacceptable, outrageous, and self-defeating for nations to put climate change on the back burner. Guterres said, “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, Guterres said the crises unfolding today must propel stronger action and effective accountability. Guterres said all G20 countries must accelerate their transition in this decade to avoid a dire fate.

He recalled that at last year’s COP, he called for coalitions of support for high-emitting emerging economies to accelerate the transition from coal towards renewables. Guterres said some progress was made with the Just Energy Transition Partnerships – but much more is needed.

With this in mind, he called for a historic Pact between developed and emerging economies – a Climate Solidarity Pact in wealthier countries and International Financial Institutions to provide financial and technical assistance to help emerging economies speed up their own renewable energy transition.

He said such a Pact would also end dependence on fossil fuels and the building of new coal plants – phasing out coal in Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries by 2030 and everywhere else by 2040.  Guterres said the two largest economies – the United States and China – are responsible for making this Pact a reality.

He said, “It is either a Climate Solidarity Pact – or a Collective Suicide Pact.”

For the eight billion members of the human family – and for generations to come, the UN Secretary-General urged leaders to do what is right and take decisive action on climate change. He categorically stated that action must start with the developed world.


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