UN Secretary-General António Guterres has delivered a scathing condemnation of world inaction in the face of the growing climate emergency at the COP27 Climate Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, stating that "we are in the fight of our lives, and we are losing".
In a pronounced speech, Guterres further claimed that, although the global community is currently facing a range of economic, political, and humanitarian challenges, it is climate change which nevertheless represents "the central challenge of our century".
"It is unacceptable, outrageous and self-defeating to put [climate change] on the back burner," Guterres said.
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Guterres went on to note that, in fact, "many of today's conflicts are linked with growing climate chaos", and that, in particular, "the war in Ukraine has exposed the profound risks of fossil fuel addiction".
"Today's crisis cannot be an excuse for backsliding or greenwashing," Guterres added. "If anything, they are a reason for greater urgency, stronger action, and effective accountability."
In a poetic flourish, Guterres added: "We are on a highway to climate hell, with our foot still on the accelerator."
However, COP27, which began on Sunday and is scheduled to last for a further two weeks, has thus far yielded at least one moderately promising development: rich countries have agreed to discuss an international compensation fund aimed at helping poorer nations adapt to global climate change.
Last year, wealthier countries stubbornly refused to discuss the measure at the COP26 Conference in Glasgow.