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World leaders unite after UN secretary general’s warning

Jordan's King Abdullah II, left, India's prime minister Narendra Modi, centre, and Cop28 president Sultan Al Jaber Reuters/Amr Alfiky
Jordan's King Abdullah II, left, India's prime minister Narendra Modi, centre, and Cop28 president Sultan Al Jaber
  • Guterres likens climate challenge to sickness
  • Sheikh Mansoor underlines 2050 target
  • King of Jordan mentions Israel-Hamas war

United Nations general secretary António Guterres has issued a call to arms for hydrocarbon producers across the world and appealed for them to “lead the transition to renewables”.

In his address at the opening ceremony of the UN Cop28 in Dubai on Friday morning, Guterres likened the climate challenge to a sickness that only global leaders can cure.

“Earth’s vital signs are failing; record emissions, ferocious fires, deadly droughts and the hottest year ever,” he said.

And he delivered a message aimed particularly at the hydrocarbon industry.

“Your old road is rapidly ageing. Do not double-down on an obsolete business model. Lead the transition to renewables,” he said.

“Make no mistake – the road to climate sustainability is also the only viable pathway to economic sustainability of your companies.”

Leaders from around the world have arrived at Dubai’s Expo City as they prepare to make their pitch to save the planet from climate change.

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, both echoed Guterres’ earlier statement.

“As soon as possible we need to rid ourselves of the dependence on fossil fuels, which puts our shared future in danger,” Michel said.

Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahayan, vice president and deputy prime minister of the UAE, as well as the minister of presidential court, reiterated his country’s target to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

He highlighted the creation of the $30 billion climate-related investment fund, which was announced earlier on Friday.

People, Person, Formal WearCop28/Mahmoud Khaled
The UN secretary general issued a call to arms in his opening address to global leaders at Cop28

Narendra Modi, prime minister of India, revealed his country’s plan to bid to become host country of Cop in 2028. 

On the opening day of the summit it was agreed to set up a new fund to help poor nations cope with climate disasters.

King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein, King of Jordan, remarked on the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas and the impact it was having on his country and the refugees in particular, which make up one-third of the population.

“Conflict ridden communities, refugees and developing countries must not be left alone to face a global problem,” he said.

“Nor can we stand by as the massive destruction of a relentless war in Gaza threatens more people and holds back progress towards a better global future.”

Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, president of Cop27, continued on the theme of conflict and said the world was facing “dangerous and grave political challenges no less dangerous than climate change”.

One of the key focuses of this year’s event is to transform climate finance, by delivering on old promises and setting the framework for a new deal on finance.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said it was of “central importance” that they were able to access climate finance resources.

Among the other leaders to address the summit were Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Mahmoud Abbas, president of Palestine and Israeli president Isaac Herzog.

Delivering the opening address at the summit earlier in the day, King Charles said he hoped Cop28 would be a “critical turning point” towards genuine transformational action.

He told world leaders: “In your hands is an unmissable opportunity to keep our common hope alive.”

UK prime minister Rishi Sunak announced a deal between the UAE’s Masdar and RWE to invest 11 billion pounds ($14 billion) in the country’s Dogger Bank offshore windfarm.

The main hope for Cop28 is that governments will come up with a roadmap to accelerate climate action.


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