European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, on Tuesday. Photo by Khaled Elfiqi/EPA-EFE
Nov. 8 (UPI) -- European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the COP 27 summit in Egypt on Tuesday called for member nations to jointly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by the end of the decade to avoid climate change's "highway to hell."
In an effort to quicken the rollout renewals, which she called REPowerEU, she said the effort would not only cut its reliance of Russian fossil fuels but can take advantage of already available resources.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the day earlier that the world was "on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator."
"Let us not take the highway to hell; let us earn the clean ticket to heaven," Leyen said. "The European Union's additional renewable capacity is set to more than double this year, up to 50 gigawatts.
"And if we accelerate and if we scale up -- and that is our plan -- we can, in the next year, meet a new all-time record of over 100 gigawatts of additional renewable capacity. Because we know that every kilowatt-hour of electricity that we generate from renewable sources -- like solar and wind, and green hydrogen -- is not only good for our climate but also good for our independence and our security of supply."
Maria Niera, the World Health Organization's director of public health and environment said the connection between climate change and health is already noticeable.
"The price of not taking decisions to fight climate change is paid by our lungs when you breathe polluted air, and many other organ," Niera said. "I think health will be the final motivation that has been missing from the 26 previous COPS. I don't see what else can be.
"If they take the right decisions, our health will gain. If they take the wrong decisions, our health will lose."
Rwanda's President Paul Kagame echoed the sentiments of many poor African countries on Tuesday, pointing out they contribute the least to global warming but continued to pay the high price for its results.
"The most valuable contribution that developed countries can make is to reduce their emissions faster while investing in Africa to build sustainable, green power," Kagame said. "Questioning whether Africa is ready to make use of climate finance should not be used as an excuse to justify inaction."