COP27: What leaders, advocates said at UN summit

Iya Gozum

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COP27: What leaders, advocates said at UN summit
Here are some of the noteworthy quotes from leaders and advocates at COP27

The 2022 United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference closed on Sunday, November 20, pulling in world leaders, policymakers, and environment champions from around 200 countries. 

Much of the conversation in this year’s climate summit centered around the establishment of loss and damage funding, or how rich countries should pay back their climate debts. 

Here are some of the noteworthy quotes from leaders, advocates at COP27:

I call on us all to rise to the expectations entrusted to us by the global community and especially by those who are most vulnerable and yet have contributed the least to climate change.

COP27 President Sameh Shoukry

If we’re gonna win this fight, every major emitter nation needs to align with the 1.5 degrees. We can no longer plead ignorance to the consequences of our actions or continue to repeat our mistakes. Everyone has to keep accelerating efforts throughout this decisive decade. 

US President Joe Biden

We have struggled for 30 years on this path, and today in Sharm el-Sheikh, this journey has achieved its first positive milestone…It is a downpayment and investment in climate justice.

Pakistan Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman

This is the make or break decade, but what we have in front of us is not enough of a step forward for people and planet. 

EU Climate Policy Chief Frans Timmermans

It is the parties who must rise to the occasion…. It is up to the parties to show their determination and to reach a consensus, to reinforce the credibility of the UNFCCC process and to address through it the challenges related to climate change.

COP27 President Sameh Shoukry

You wouldn’t steal our planet Earth from us while we are on this land of peace. Show us your courage, be our heroes instead. Act here now. 

Nakeeyat Dramani Sam

Climate security goes hand in hand with energy security…. Putin’s abhorrent war in Ukraine and rising energy prices across the world are not a reason to go slow on climate change. They are a reason to act faster.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

There is no climate security for the world without a protected Amazon. We will spare no efforts to have a zero deforestation and [to prevent] the degradation of our biomes by 2030.

Brazilian president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva

We have begun, but let us not slow down, because all of these successive crises say the same things to us – the injustices in today’s world are unsustainable. I cannot tolerate it any longer, and we can only emerge from this by rethinking how we can act in solidarity.

French President Emmanuel Macron

I envision a future where we do not have to fear another flood, another typhoon, another fire, or fear finding another murdered protector of the Amazon. I envision a world where the children, your children, our children, do not have to fight for the future of humanity.

Environmental activist Helena Gualinga

We remind you that the 1.5°C goal is non-negotiable. In playing the blame game and pretending we have time when we truly don’t, you are taking away our hope for a livable future. We demand the urgent delivery of your responsibilities to the Global South and the immediate end of your pollution.

Filipino Youth Declaration 

The world is barreling down the ‘highway to climate hell,’ as the United Nations secretary-general warned us. It isn’t Fiji’s foot on the gas pedal, nor that of any other small island state. We are passengers, we are more like hostages, trapped in a vehicle that is being recklessly stirred by the high emitters.

Fiji ambassador to the UN Satyendra Prasad 

We need you to be brave, we need you to do absolutely everything in your power. If you don’t act now, it might be too late for us to right your wrongs when we inherit your seats.

Norway youth delegate Matilde Angelveit

Until emissions are reduced to zero, the global temperatures will continue to rise, and major emitters, you will continue to rake up a moral and financial debt to us. We want that debt to be as small as possible, for we would rather keep our homes than be forced to come to yours.

Marshall Islands Minister John Silk

Climate change and its consequences have changed the demands on disaster risk reduction in terms of risk prevention, preparedness, and resilient recovery. These should now include investments in the possible future and ways to continuously address residual impacts. 

Philippine ambassador to Egypt Ezzedin Tago

We express serious concern at plans by certain states and regional associations to revise previous commitments on the pretext of a difficult geopolitical situation.

Russian climate envoy Ruslan Edelgereiev

What we are witnessing is the gaming of the system.Countries come here to this COP and make grand statements — some are even funded by the very industry that we are here to freeze out. The lackluster follow-through could not be a clearer signal, as you can see.

Antigue and Barbuda ambassador to the UN Conrod Hunte

The decision makers, those with real powers, simply do not care. They do not care about the communities that will be displaced and destroyed [and] about food and water shortages that ravage poor countries. All they care about is power…. And they are willing to use all the tools at their disposal to maintain that power, regardless of consequences to countries like mine.

Nauru Minister Rennier Stanislaus Gadabu

The severity of loss and damage is traumatic. What, then, is the game changer? There is no action without addressing climate justice, which embraces climate finance. 

Saint Kitts and Nevis Minister Joyelle Clarke

The current state of play [in EU legislation] will bring the actual emissions reductions to at least 57%. The EU stands ready to update our NDC (Nationally Determined Contribution) reflecting this higher ambition, so don’t let anybody tell you…that the EU is backtracking.

European Commission Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans

In view of our experience with the unmet $100 billion per year target, the Philippines urges for the adoption of a transformational, operational definition of climate finance to include the principles or characteristics of the new collective quantified goal. 

Philippine ambassador to Egypt Ezzedin Tago

We’re proving a good climate policy is good economic policy…. Thanks to the actions we’ve taken, I can stand here as president of the United States of America and say with confidence that the United States of America will meet our emissions targets by 2030. 

US President Joe Biden

Unfortunately, people still like promises even if they know that this person is not going to actually fulfill this promise…. I think the question we need to ask ourselves is not what is transparency – we all know what it is – but why are we not ready to be transparent?

UN youth advisory group on climate change chair Nisreen Elsaim

Climate change poses an existential threat to us. We can, in a space of a few hours, watch our entire GDP be destroyed. And we do not have too many options to turn to in terms of reconstruction and looking to pick ourselves up and rebuild our economy.

Saint Lucia Minister Shawn Edward

The reason why we are talking about loss and damage today is because we have failed, one, on mitigation, and we have failed, two, on financing adaptation as well. The longer we wait on reaching an agreement, the costlier it will be on our ability to be able to address loss and damage.

Maldives’ Minister of Environment, Climate Change, and Technology Aminath Shauna

This Russian war has brought about an energy crisis that has forced dozens of countries to resume coal-fired power generation in order to lower energy prices for their people…. There can be no effective climate policy without peace on Earth. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy

The war in Ukraine has taught us a paradoxical lesson. On one hand, it lends credence to our decision to progressively move away from fossil fuels. But said war in Ukraine has also unleashed chaos…and overly rapid change in the markets, and has paradoxically led to increased reliance, at least in the short term, on fossil fuels.

European Council President Charles Michel

Loss and damage needs to be part of the core agenda of COP27 to meet the pressing humanitarian needs of those that are trapped in a crisis of public financing fueled by debt and yet have to fund climate disasters on their own. This is simply unjust and unfair, to say the least.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif

We should no longer be held hostage to fossil fuels. Let’s not let the war in Ukraine serve as an excuse for us to backslide on our commitments to transitioning to renewable energy today. Today, we are calling for those who are the largest emitters of pollution to take responsibility for the damage they cause.

Palau President Surangel Whipps

The key to addressing climate change is sustainable development and restored balance to our relationship with nature. But nature’s losing its patience with us and lashing out with unrelenting vengeance. And as nature lashes out, our citizens are also losing their patience. We must act now, not later. We must act today, not tomorrow.

Malawi President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera

The goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees is on life support…. The realities of war, economic headwinds, the hangover from the pandemic, and competition among world powers cannot be used as justification not to confront these imminent dangers. Let’s get real. It’s only going to get worse.

Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis

It is no secret that climate financing has missed the target…. As many developed nations deem it fit to wait on their climate financing contributions, these countries were also on both sides of the Ukraine war and seemed to have no qualms spending for a war.

Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe

 It is our hope that the Sharm El Sheikh climate summit will make decisions not to maintain the illusion of adequate progress, but to respond to the realities presented by the climate crisis and ensure that the intended benefits would be equitably and justly felt by developing nations and the most vulnerable peoples.

Aksyon Klima national convenor Rodne Galicha

We have a credibility problem, all of us. We’re talking, and we’re starting to act, but we’re not doing enough. It is a choice to continue this pattern of destructive behavior. We have other choices. 

Former US vice president Al Gore

Loss and damage is not an abstract topic of endless dialogue. It is our daily experience and the living nightmare of millions of Kenyans and hundreds of millions of Kenyans and hundreds of million of Africans. 

Kenyan President William Ruto

How do companies make $200 billion in profits in the last three months and not expect to contribute at least 10 cents in every dollar of profit to a loss and damage fund? This is what our people expect.

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley

The clock is ticking. We are in the fight of our lives, and we are losing…. Our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible. We are on a highway to climate hell, with our foot still on the accelerator. 

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres

I’m hopeful that [loss and damage] will get on the agenda. There has been a softening of positions from many nations who a year ago or two years ago would not have been willing to support it. 

Jamaican Minister Matthew Samuda


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Iya Gozum

Iya Gozum covers the environment, agriculture, and science beats for Rappler.