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U.N. chief urges action at COP27 climate summit, warns 'the world cannot wait'

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tells journalists in New York he is urging all countries to attend the U.N. Climate Conference, COP27, in Egypt warning "the world cannot wait." Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/fce68b57a37d680ee0018d1f2eb5e18f/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tells journalists in New York he is urging all countries to attend the U.N. Climate Conference, COP27, in Egypt warning "the world cannot wait." Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 3 (UPI) -- United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a dire warning that next month's U.N. Climate Conference in Egypt is "as immense as the climate impacts we are seeing around the world."

Guterres underscored the importance of the conference, called COP27, to reporters in New York on Monday, as government representatives finalized the agenda. He said the collective commitments of G20 industrialized nations have come "far too little and far too late."

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"The actions of the wealthiest developed and emerging economies simply don't add up," Guterres said. "We are in a life-or-death struggle for our own safety today and our survival tomorrow."

"A third of Pakistan flooded. Europe's hottest summer in 500 years. The Philippines hammered. The whole of Cuba in black-out," Guterres said. "And here, in the United States, Hurricane Ian has delivered a brutal reminder that no country and no economy is immune from climate crisis."

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"On the central question of loss and damage, we know people and nations are suffering now. They need meaningful decisions now," the U.N. chief said as he urged all countries to attend COP27 in Sharm el-Shaikh.

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"Leaders of the world can demonstrate through their presence and active participation that climate action truly is the top global priority it must be," he said.

Guterres' comments came hours after Britain's King Charles III, who is passionate about environmental issues, announced Monday he would skip the climate summit, following a consultation with Prime Minister Liz Truss.

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As Guterres argued emissions are at an all-time high and rising, he urged nations to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius or even meet a 1.5-degree goal.

He blamed Russia's war in Ukraine for putting climate action "on the back burner," while accusing the "dynamic climate actors" in the business world of being hampered by "obsolete regulatory frameworks, red tape and harmful subsidies that send the wrong signals."

Guterres called COP27 "the number one litmus test" of how seriously governments will take the growing climate toll on the most vulnerable countries, calling on developed nations to clarify their $100 billion pledge to support climate action in developing countries.

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"International financial institutions must overhaul their business model and approach to risk," Guterres urged. "Beyond pursuing their own drop-in-the-bucket initiatives, they must intensify their efforts to leverage the necessary massive increases of private finance as first-investors and risk-takers. On every climate front, the only solution is decisive action in solidarity."

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"Every government, every business, every investor, every institution must step up with concrete climate actions for net zero," he said.

"There is no time for pointing fingers -- or twiddling thumbs," Guterres warned. "It is time for a game-changing, quantum level compromise between developed and emerging economies. The world cannot wait."

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