EU chief warns ‘parts of planet will become uninhabitable’

Climate change: Regions to become ‘uninhabitable’ warns EU chief

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Parts of the globe “will become uninhabitable” if the world continues on its current trajectory, a European Union chief has warned. European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans, who is also the EU’s lead negotiator for Egypt at Cop27, told Andrew Marr that the world must commit to change to “avoid the worst catastrophe”, suggesting the instillation of a circular economy, whereby recycling and reuse are priorities in a global market, and a focus on supporting developing nations already feeling the effects of climate change was paramount. 

Mr Timmermans said: “There are many things we need to do. Our lives will change. Nobody will be untouched by this. 

“But if we do them, if we commit to them, then we can still avoid the worst catastrophe. If we keep going as we are doing now, I think parts of the planet will become uninhabitable. 

“Many, many people will look for refuge elsewhere. So, if you do not want to do it to save the planet or other people, think about yourselves.” 

He added that the West must “support developing nations in adapting to this horrible situation they are in with the climate crisis as it has already unfolded”. 

World leaders are making the case for tougher action to tackle global warming on Tuesday, as this year’s international climate talks in Egypt heard growing calls for fossil fuel companies to help pay for the damage they have helped cause to the planet.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres warned on Monday that humanity was on “a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator,” urging countries to “cooperate or perish”. 

He and leaders such as Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley said it was time to make fossil fuel companies contribute to funds which would provide vulnerable countries with financial aid for the climate-related losses they are suffering.

The idea of a windfall tax on carbon profits has gained traction in recent months amid sky-high earnings for oil and gas majors even as consumers struggle to pay the cost of heating their homes and filling their cars. 

For the first time, delegates at this year’s UN climate conference are to discuss demands by developing nations that the richest, most polluting countries pay compensation for damage wreaked on them by climate change, which in climate negotiations is called “loss and damage”.

On Tuesday, more world leaders were to take the stage, including Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif of Pakistan, where summer floods caused at least $40 billion in damage and displaced millions of people. 

After the speeches, the conference delegates will delve into negotiations on a range of issues — including for the first time on compensation. 

Some of the strongest pleas for action have come so far from leaders of poor nations that caused little of the pollution but often get a larger share of the weather-related damage.

Nigeria’s Environment Minister Mohammed Abdullahi called for wealthy nations to show “positive and affirmative” commitments to help countries hardest hit by climate change.

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“Our priority is to be aggressive when it comes to climate funding to mitigate the challenges of loss and damage,” he said.

Leaders of poorer nations, joined by French President Emmanuel Macron, talked about the issue as one of justice and fairness.

“Our part of the world has to choose between life and death,’’ Tanzania President Samia Suluhu Hassan said.

“Africa should not pay for crimes they have not committed,” Central African Republic President Faustin Archange Touadera said, adding that rich nations were to blame for the climate problem.

“Climate change is directly threatening our people’s lives, health and future,” Kenyan President William K. Ruto said of the African continent, which he said is looking at $50 billion a year in climate change damage by 2050. Ruto said Kenya is choosing to not use many of its “dirty energy” resources even though it could help the poor nation financially, and has instead opted for cleaner fuels.

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