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UN chief: World on ‘highway to climate hell’ amid rising temperatures, global warming

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivers a speech at the COP27 leaders summit in Egypt on November 7, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

The United Nations’ secretary-general says world leaders face a stark choice to join forces to cut gas emissions or condemn future generations to climate catastrophe, warning that the globe is on a “highway to climate hell” in the midst of devastating effects of rising temperatures and global warming.

Antonio Guterres raised the alarm in the presence of nearly 100 heads of state and government in the two-day COP27 climate summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt on Monday.

"Greenhouse gas emissions keep growing. Global temperatures keep rising. And our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible," the UN chief told the summit. "We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator."

Guterres said humanity faces a tough choice between working together or "collective suicide" in the battle against global warming.

"Humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish," he said, calling on richer polluting nations to come to the aid of poorer countries least responsible for the emission of heat-trapping gases.

Underling that climate change could not be put on the "back burner,” Guterres called for a "historic" deal between rich emitters and emerging economies that would hold the rise in temperatures to the Paris Agreement target of 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial era.

The UN secretary-general said the target should be to provide renewable and affordable energy for all, calling on the United States and China in particular to lead the way. Guterres also said it was a "moral imperative" for richer polluters to help vulnerable countries.

The UN chief said rich nations would be expected to set a timetable for the delivery of $100 billion per year to help developing countries green their economies and build resilience against future climate change.

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