The UN secretary-general has warned that the destruction caused by wildfires and heatwaves across large portions of the planet indicates that humanity is on the verge of committing “collective suicide.” Governments are frantically trying to shield citizens from the effects of excessive heat.
Ministers from 40 nations gathered on Monday to debate the global warming catastrophe, and António Guterres said: “Half of humankind is in the risk zone from floods, droughts, extreme storms, and wildfires. No country is safe. Yet we keep stoking our addiction to fossil fuels.
“We have a choice”, he continued. “Action as a group or group murder. We are in control of it.”
Over the weekend, wildfires raged over North America and Europe. The archaeological site of Macchu Picchu in South America was in danger from fire. In recent months, extreme heat has shattered records all across the planet. Heatwaves have hit India and South Asia, droughts have destroyed sections of Africa, and in March, scientists were astounded by previously unheard-of heatwaves at both poles.
With the warmest temperatures ever recorded in the UK predicted for Monday and highs above 40C predicted in some areas, an excessive heat warning was issued for the UK.
The Petersberg Climate Dialogue, a two-day climate conference in Berlin, brings together ministers to debate the effects of the climate catastrophe, rising prices for fossil fuels and food, and extreme weather. One of the last chances to reach an agreement among important nations before the Cop27 UN climate summit in Egypt this November is the gathering, which has been held annually for the past 13 years by the German government.
Alok Sharma, who presided over the Cop26 UN climate summit in Glasgow in November, won’t be present at the Berlin meeting, but he will participate digitally in a number of sessions. In order to cast his vote in the Conservative party leadership election, which will determine who succeeds Boris Johnson as UK prime minister, he must remain in London.
Alok Sharma’s absence caused several participants to wonder why the UK was not present at the UN negotiations, which are currently under the UK’s leadership until Egypt assumes the role.
The chances of Cop27 becoming a reality have significantly decreased in recent months as a result of the rising costs of food and energy, which have plunged governments into a cost-of-living crisis fueled in part by the slow recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and made worse by the conflict in Ukraine.
Countries made promises at Cop26 to keep global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, but they were still insufficient. All nations concurred to submit revised national plans for greenhouse gas emissions this year, referred to as nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
In an interview with the Guardian, Frans Timmermans, the vice president of the European Commission, who represents the EU bloc at the UN climate negotiations, tempered expectations for the gathering. I honestly don’t see that many new NDCs on the horizon, he said, citing Australia’s newly elected government as an unusual example.
Egypt’s foreign minister and Cop27 president Sameh Shoukry will attend the Berlin discussions this week, but worries about Egypt’s own recently filed NDC likely overshadow his attendance. Many observers were disappointed by the plan since they had hoped for far higher levels of ambition to lead by example for other developing economies.
The “multilateral development banks,” which include the World Bank and are supported by tax dollars from wealthy nations to aid developing ones, were also harshly criticized by Antonio Guterres.
He claimed that they needed to be changed because they were unfit for their intended function in terms of delivering the money required to address the climate catastrophe.
“Developed countries must demand the immediate delivery of the funding and assistance needed to increase renewable energy and enhance climate resilience in developing countries, he added, noting that they are shareholders in multilateral development banks. Encourage these banks to become functional. Encourage them to alter their stale frameworks and procedures to accept more risk. Let’s demonstrate to emerging nations that they can depend on their allies.
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