The world leaders have stressed that building resilience and tackling the adverse impact of climate change should be an urgent priority for all as the planet grapples with chaotic weather patterns.
At the UN General Assembly high-level debate on Thursday, more than a dozen heads of state and government spotlighted the need for concrete climate measures, as opposed to mere promises, calling for reforming global financial institutions and unlocking funds for developing countries to allow them to catch up on the path to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
They also emphasised that the current exclusionary architecture, dominated by a few states, is failing to deliver the requisite resources, saying no meaningful climate action or development can take place in conditions of financial distress.
Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo, cited climate as the most pressing of all emergencies and drew attention to the afforestation initiative that he undertook in his capacity as President of the Congo Basin Climate Commission.
Pointing out that arable land in Africa must be protected from the impacts of climate change, he called for effective technical and financial partnerships.
José Ramos-Horta, President of Timor-Leste, proposed to accelerate energy transition in fragile developing States by unlocking finance through debt alleviation, streamlining international finance at the lowest interest rates and increasing development assistance.
Wesley Simina, President of the Federated States of Micronesia, implored all parties to the Paris Agreement — particularly major emitters — to commit to emissions reductions of at least half by 2030 and peg their net-zero goals no later than 2050.
Han Zheng, Vice-President of China, stressed the importance of the Paris accord and the need to stop building new coal-fired power projects abroad, and to vigorously support developing countries to create more green energy projects.
For its part, he said, China will continue to prioritize ecological conservation and the advancement of green and low-carbon development. “Through Chinese modernization and rejuvenation, the country seeks to achieve harmony between humanity and nature while promoting ethical material advancement.”
Jessica Alupo, Vice-President of Uganda, called on developed countries to fulfil their commitment, in line with the Paris Agreement, to provide $100 billion — annually, through 2025 — to developing countries to assist with mitigation and adaptation.
Answering that call, Dan Jørgensen, Minister for Development Cooperation and Global Climate Policy of Denmark, said his government is increasing grant-based climate finance to its highest level ever this year, doubling its contribution to the Green Climate Fund next year, and tripling its contribution to climate finance in developing countries by 2030.
“The world needs to better leverage the enormous potential of international financial institutions, and development banks must raise trillions of dollars for climate action and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he insisted.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister of Greece, said high temperatures resulting from global warming are driving threats of fires, heat waves and landslides in different countries.
“While the world acts decisively on long-term mitigation, the international community is “collectively guilty in not placing enough emphasis on short-term adaptation” he said, calling for the creation of a global forum that can deliver access to new financing to drive such adaptation “before it is too late.”
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ in a video message to the ministerial meeting of the least developed countries, pushed for a Climate Solidarity Pact in which all countries make extra efforts to reduce emissions this decade.
“Developed countries must also present a clear and credible road map to double adaptation finance by 2025. The $100 billion goal must be met, and the Green Climate Fund must be fully capitalised,” he said.