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Wednesday 4 October 2023 Dublin: 12°C
Lauren Boland/The Journal Taoiseach Micheál Martin speaking to reporters at COP27
# World Leaders Summit
UN chief warns world can either 'cooperate or perish' on climate as Taoiseach arrives at COP27
“The global climate fight will be won or lost in this crucial decade on our watch.”

LAST UPDATE | Nov 7th 2022, 4:19 PM

Lauren Boland reports from COP27

THE URGENCY OF the climate crisis means that world leaders can either “coooperate or perish”, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has stated.

Heads of states and governments from around the globe, including Taoiseach Micheál Martin, are in Egypt to attend a two-day World Leaders Summit at COP27, an international climate conference.

Over the next two weeks, negotiators will be tasked with finding common ground between oft-divided countries on commitments to tackling the climate crisis, which is already threatening lives in many parts of the world and on track to grow worse unless greenhouse gas emissions are significantly reduced.

The opening of the leaders’ summit this afternoon heard from Guterres that the world is “on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator”.

He called on heavy-emitting countries to increase their efforts to cut their impact and said there is a “moral imperative” on rich polluting states to help countries that are most vulnerable and most affected by the climate crisis.

Raising Russia’s war on Ukraine, Guterres said that it and other crises are capturing attention but said that many of those are linked to “growing climate chaos”.

“Let’s not forget that the war on nature is in itself a massive violation of human rights,” he added.

“The global climate fight will be won or lost in this crucial decade on our watch.”

He said countries must work together to forge a climate solidarity pact or will face “collective suicide”.

Later in the day, Guterres spoke to media at the Pakistan pavilion, where he discussed his recent visit to Pakistan and the evidence of climate-caused loss and damage that he witnessed.

In his relatively brief speech, he stated that this COP must deliver on an institutional framework for international climate finance. 

Over the next two days, leaders will deliver statements, attend roundtable discussions, and meet with other representatives.

The Taoiseach intends to discuss the climate and biodiversity crises with the new British prime minister when the two leaders next meet, though it is likely to be after the conference.

Sunak, who took up office in Downing Street only two weeks ago, initially said that he would not attend the conference, citing domestic priorities that he put above it.

He also did not reinstate Alok Sharma, an MP and the President of COP26, to his new Cabinet.

Speaking to Irish reporters at COP27 today, the Taoiseach said that the UK has a “good record in terms of climate change relative to other countries”.

“I’ve no doubt that that will continue because I think the British public at large are supportive of climate change and restoring biodiversity.

“I think I’ve seen no evidence that the British government is going to resign from that,” he said.

“I will be meeting Rishi Sunak, maybe not at this conference but over the coming weeks, and then we can discuss those issues along with others.”

Asked the particular issues he would he raise, the Taoiseach said: “To be frank, we’re coming from behind over the last decade. Britain has been ahead, so I’m not in any position to start questioning British resolve on this matter.”

He said he would like Ireland and the UK to forge a partnership on offshore wind and renewable energy.

Speaking at a roundtable on food security, the Taoiseach said those who have contributed least to climate crisis are bearing the worst brunt of it. 

He said the link between conflict and food insecurity is irrefutable, and condemned “the illegal war by Russia” in Ukraine and the “weaponising of hunger”.

The Taoiseach also spoke about Ireland’s contribution to eliminating global hunger. At last year’s Nutrition for Growth summit, Ireland committed €800 million for global nutrition work over the next five years. 

Ireland also committed an additional €50 million to tackle childhood malnutrition over the next three years at the UN General Assembly in September.

The Taoiseach will address the summit tomorrow afternoon to give Ireland’s national statement.

Particularly important are the issues of loss and damage – the ways the crisis is impacting those most vulnerable – and finance to support developing countries.

The Taoiseach said today that it is “very important that world leaders come together now annually to keep a focus on climate change and the need to accelerate delivery of all of the various pledges and targets that have been set”.

“That’s very important from our perspective and events like this do concentrate the mind, create a greater awareness globally about the danger we are in, particularly future generations.

“We are running out of time and we have to accelerate delivery of the various measures that we’ve identified,” he said, pointing to Ireland’s aims around renewable energy, biodiversity restoration, transport and agriculture.

The next Climate Action Plan is due to provide an update on how Ireland intends to make progress on those areas.

Last year, the Climate Action Plan 2021 was published to coincide with COP26 but this year’s plan has not yet been released.

Asked whether he would have liked it to have been published alongside COP this year, the Taoiseach said: “I have a lot of respect for Eamon Ryan for climate. He’s working with all the other government departments. He’s comfortable where he is. We had a discussion on this week before at the Cabinet subcommittee on these issues.”

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