Home » World is on “highway to climate hell” and nations must “cooperate or perish,” U.N. chief warns summit

World is on “highway to climate hell” and nations must “cooperate or perish,” U.N. chief warns summit

by Mahmmod Shar


Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt — The only way to “put an end to all this suffering” from “a highway to climate hell” is for the world to cooperate or perish, dozens of leaders were admonished as they gathered Monday for international climate talks.

More than 100 world leaders will speak over the next few days to try to deal with a worsening problem that scientists call Earth’s biggest challenge. Nearly 50 heads of states or governments started to take the stage Monday in the first day of “high-level” talks at this year’s annual U.N. climate conference, known as COP27, with more to come in the following days.

Much of the focus will be on national leaders telling their stories of being devastated by climate disasters, culminating Tuesday with a speech by Pakistan Prime Minister Muhammad Sharif, whose country’s summer floods caused at least $40 billion in damage and displaced millions of people.

“The planet has become a world of suffering. … Is it not high time to put an end to all this suffering,” Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the summit host, told his fellow leaders.”Climate change will never stop without our intervention. … Our time here is limited and we must use every second that we have.”


El-Sisi, who called for an end to the Russia-Ukraine war, was gentle compared to a fiery United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who said the world “is on a highway to climate hell.”

At the summit on Sunday, the World Meteorological Association released a report that said, “Due to rising greenhouse gas concentrations and accumulated heat, the last eight years are on track to be the eight warmest on record. This year, severe heatwaves, a severe drought, and devastating flooding have affected millions of people and cost billions.”

Sea level rise and glacial melting, among other “tell-tale signs and impacts of climate change,” the report claimed, “are becoming more dramatic.”

However, Guterres’ rhetorical display of fire and brimstone might not have the same effect it did in previous meetings.

Why? because of poor timing and because of those who are absent, tardy, or hesitant.

The majority of the leaders will meet on Monday and Tuesday, which coincides with the United States’ potentially consequential midterm elections. A few days later, the 20 richest countries’ leaders will meet in Bali, Indonesia, for their exclusive club meeting. Additionally, former U.S. negotiator and CEO of Climate Advisers Nigel Purvis noted that “there are big climate summits and little climate summits, and this was never expected to be a big one.”

Leaders of two of the three biggest carbon polluting nations — China and India — appear to be skipping the climate talks, although underlings are here negotiating. The leader of the other top polluting country — President Biden — is coming days later than most of the other presidents and prime ministers on his way to Bali.

Join our U.S Main News community and be the first to hear the news!

United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was initially going to avoid the negotiations, but public pressure and predecessor Boris Johnson’s plans to come changed his mind. New King Charles III, a longtime environment advocate, won’t attend because of his new role. And Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin, whose invasion of Ukraine created energy chaos that reverberates in the world of climate negotiations, won’t be here.

“We always want more” leaders, United Nations climate chief Simon Stiell said in a Sunday news conference. “But I believe there is sufficient (leadership) right now for us to have a very productive outcome.”

In addition to speeches given by the leaders, the negotiations include “innovative” roundtable discussions that “we are confident, will generate some very powerful insights,” Stiell said.

The leaders showing up in droves are from the host continent of Africa.

“The historical polluters who caused climate change are not showing up,” said Mohammed Adow of Power Shift Africa. “Africa is the least responsible, the most vulnerable to the issue of climate change and it is a continent that is stepping up and providing leadership.”

“The South is actually stepping up,” Adow told The Associated Press. “The North that historically caused the problem is failing.”

Monday will be heavily dominated by leaders of nations victimized by climate change, not those that have created the problem of heat-trapping gases warming up the atmosphere by burning fossil fuel. It will be mostly African nations and small island nations and other vulnerable nations that will be telling their stories.

And they are dramatic ones, droughts in Africa and floods in Pakistan, in places that could least afford it. For the first time in 30 years of climate negotiations, the summit “should focus its attention on the severe climate impacts we’re already seeing,” said World Resources International’s David Waskow.

“We can’t discount an entire continent that has over a billion people living here and has some of the most severe impacts,” Waskow said. “It’s pretty clear that Africa will be at risk in a very severe way.”

Leaders come “to share the progress they’ve made at home and to accelerate action,” Purvis said. In this case, with the passage of the first major climate legislation and $375 billion in spending, Mr. Biden has a lot to share, he said.

While it’s impressive that so many leaders are coming to the summit, “my expectations for ambitious climate targets in these two days are very low,” said NewClimate Institute’ scientist Niklas Hohne. That’s because of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which caused energy and food crises that took away from climate action, he said. 

Leave a Comment

What You Need to Know

Main News is an online news outlet that provides readers with up-to-date news stories from around the world.