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Climate action key to combating climate extremes, says UN Boss

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres/Picture by Jackson Mnyamwezi
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres/Picture by Jackson Mnyamwezi

Deadly climate extremes can only be averted if the international community joins hands in amplifying climate action.

While he is on record warning that the era of global warming has ended and the era of global boiling has set in, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres is oozing with optimism that it is still possible to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

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This optimism can only translate into reality with a quantum leap in climate action, he says.

“The people of Africa — and people everywhere — need action to respond to deadly climate extremes. First — we need far greater climate ambition, with countries hitting fast-forward, and massively accelerating action to limit temperature rises and impacts,” said Guterres when he addressed the inaugural Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi Tuesday.

The UN Boss is of the view that the largest emitters must lead the charge, in line with Climate Solidarity Pact and Acceleration Agenda.

On the other hand, developed countries must commit to reaching net-zero emissions as close as possible to 2040 — and emerging economies as close as possible to 2050, with support from developed countries to do so.

He says the time is nigh for the world to end the use of fossil fuels and invest in a just and equitable transition.

“We need to see credible plans to exit coal by 2030 for OECD countries — and by 2040 for the rest of the world. We need ambitious renewable energy goals in line with the 1.5 degree limit,” he told the well-attended gathering that included at least 15 Heads of State and Government.

“And we must bring affordable electricity to everyone on earth — particularly in Africa — while simultaneously reaching net-zero electricity by 2035 in developed countries and 2040 elsewhere.”

And he did not end there. The UN Chief told the participants of the three-day event that there was need to ensure climate justice if these targets are to become a reality.

According to Guterres, there is need for developed countries to present a clear and credible roadmap to double adaptation finance by 2025 as a first step towards devoting at least half of all climate finance to adaptation.

“They must also keep their promise to provide $100 billion a year to developing countries for climate support, and fully replenish the Green Climate Fund.”

At the start of the Africa Climate Summit Monday, speaker after speaker cried foul terming lack of financing to be Africa’s key impediment to the ongoing efforts to combat the effects of climate change.

Guterres used the occasion to call on countries to operationalize the loss and damage fund proposed at COP28 this year, adding that every person globally must be covered by an early warning system by 2027.

This, he noted, can be achieved by implementing the Action Plan that was launched last year.

Six out of every 10 Africans currently lack access to the said systems and it is expected that the Early Warning for All Africa Action Plan that was launched Monday under the leadership of the African Union will be critical in addressing this need.

“More broadly, we need a course correction in the global financial system so that it supports accelerated climate action in the context of sustainable development. We can’t achieve one without the other,” noted Guterres who advocated for an effective debt-relief mechanism that supports payment suspensions, longer lending terms, and lower rates.

Further, he underscored the need to re-capitalize and change the business model of Multilateral Development Banks to enable them leverage private finance at affordable rates in a move he says will help developing countries build sustainable economies.

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