Act or consign humanity to doom

DELAYED climate action is unthinkable, said President Dr. Irfaan Ali as he addressed a high-level thematic debate on ‘Delivering Climate Action for People, Planet & Prosperity’, which was convened virtually by the United Nations’ General Assembly on Tuesday.

Emphasising the fact that climate change continues to be one of humanity’s foremost existential threats, the Head of State told world leaders, “We are faced with no other choice but to act now, or consign humanity to doom.”

He stressed that the world’s failure to ramp up its overall ambitions will result in higher and more unbearable economic and environmental costs. Further, President Ali recognised that despite setbacks occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic, global greenhouse gas emissions have rebounded.
“Even more disturbing is that the world is not on track to achieve the global temperature goals set under the Paris Agreement on climate change,” the Guyanese leader posited.

He noted, too, that science has emphasised the importance and urgency of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century to avoid irreversible changes in the environment.

“Deep emission reductions are needed; and needed now if we are to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century,” Dr. Ali noted.

He said that the forum is a much-welcomed curtain-raiser ahead of the 26th Session of the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26).

President Ali said, pointedly, that the world must deliver an outcome at COP26 that demonstrates a global resolve to protect human life and biodiversity. He acknowledged, too, that failure to agree, and take bold and ambitious action against climate change will be tragic for all, especially for Small Island Developing and Low-Lying Coastal States.

“Already, Small-Island Developing and Low-Lying Coastal States are threatened by dangerously rising sea levels, and extreme weather events, including flooding, droughts and more intense hurricanes, and by the destruction of critical economic assets,” Dr. Ali posited, as he highlighted key areas that COP26 should be strategic in focusing on.

“COP26 must restore confidence in international cooperation such as that which led to the historic Paris Agreement on climate change; COP26 must manifest a revitalised spirit of international solidarity, and more equitable sharing of responsibilities, particularly on the part of the world’s largest emitters; COP26 must be underscored by an emphasis on implementation and honouring commitments; COP26 must result in decisions that would allow for the transfer of financing and technologies to support mitigation and adaptation in small states,” President Ali affirmed.

He said that Guyana will continue to play its part in reducing emissions, and providing the world with critical climate and ecosystem services. He made specific reference to the country’s Low-Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), which stands as a model of the significant contributions small states can make in promoting climate action aimed at reducing emissions and increasing climate resilience.

“Guyana is expanding its Low-Carbon Development Strategy into a comprehensive framework to include protection of biodiversity, freshwater management, and the protection of the marine economy,” Dr. Ali noted.

Last month, during his attendance at the Sixth Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), President Ali restated Guyana’s commitment to providing strong leadership on issues such as climate change and food security.
At the forum in Mexico, President Ali said that ahead of COP26, a systemic approach in dealing with issues of the environment and climate change should be agreed on.

“This approach must speak to issues of access to resources to address adaption and mitigation, establishment of a climate vulnerability fund, and fulfilment of pledges made by the developed world,” Dr. Ali said.

Additionally, in his address to the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) Leaders’ Summit, held amid the high-level segment of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Dr. Ali stressed the need for improved financing for mitigation and adaptation of climate change measures, and efforts to decarbonise economies.

More specifically, the President also underscored that there is need for developed countries to honour their pledge of US$100 billion annually, under the Paris Agreement, and to commit to unlocking simplified and direct access to concessional finance for climate-vulnerable economies through the use of a Multi-dimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI).

In wrapping up his latest climate change meeting, President Ali told his fellow leaders that “the fate of humanity is in our hands,” and stressed, “We must not disappoint. The time for action is now!”


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