COP28: What leaders say about the future of the planet

World Friday 01/December/2023 14:51 PM
By: DW
COP28: What leaders say about the future of the planet

Dubai: As this year's UN climate conference — COP28 — gets underway in earnest, heads of state and government are addressing the world. Their speeches give an insight into what is at stake during the upcoming two weeks of negotiations.

Speakers on Friday include Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, a top oil producer, and Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, where sprawling cities are regularly choked by poor air conditions. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was among the first to speak.

Reiterating his message that the world is facing unprecedented heating that is causing human suffering, he called on leaders to take urgent action.

"We cannot save a burning planet with a fire hose of fossil fuels... The 1.5 degree limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels," Guterres said.

The phase-out of coal, oil and gas will be a leading issue at this year's conference. Though the buringin of fossil fuels is the main reason for global warming, the 27 previous climate conferences have failed to deliver a commitment to phase them out in the long term.

Guterres, who has long been a critic of oil, gas and coal, urged leaders to "help" industries commit to sustainable production and environmentally friendly methods "by regulating, legislating, putting a fair price on carbon, ending fossil fuel subsidies, and adopting a windfall tax on profits."

He also called on fuel companies to transition to renewable energy sources.

King Charles III of the United Kingdom said "I pray with all my heart that COP28 will be another critical turning point towards transformational action at a time when, already, as scientists have been warning for so long, we are seeing alarming tipping points being reached."

His remarks came a day after the UN said 2023 was on track to become the hottest year recorded in human history.

"Unless we rapidly repair and restore nature's economy, based on harmony and balance, which is our ultimate sustainer, our own economy and survivability will be imperiled," the British monarch said.

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, home to most of the world's biggest natural carbon-capture zone on land, the Amazon rainforest, said "the planet is tired of climate agreements that were not fulfilled", adding that  he has had enough of "eloquent and empty speeches."

"In the north of Brazil, the Amazon region is suffering one of the most tragic droughts of its history. In the South, we are facing tempests and hurricanes that lead to a lot of destruction and death," he said.

Lula called for climate justice for poorer nations that didn't cause the problem and said the $2 trillion spent on weapons last year could instead be spent on fighting hunger and climate change. He said Brazil will stop Amazon deforestation by 2030.