Prime Minister De Croo highlights need for action on climate change at UN General Assembly
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Prime Minister De Croo highlights need for action on climate change at UN General Assembly

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo recalled the effects of July’s floods as he highlighted the need for the world’s nations to pursue the fight against climate change in an address to the UN General Assembly on Friday evening.

“This summer, Europe and my country were severely affected by extreme weather conditions,” Mr. De Croo said. “Forty-one of my compatriots lost their lives in these floods, the worst our country has ever known. Our nation is still in shock.”

For the Belgian Prime Minister, the UN Climate Conference to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, in November is “the most important meeting of recent years.”

“The common mission in Glasgow is crystal clear,” he said: “We need to do whatever it takes to limit global warming to the Paris target of one and a half degrees.”

To attain this goal, it is essential to work on the resilience of the most vulnerable countries, according to Prime Minister De Croo, who urged the more developed countries to deliver on their financing commitment of 100 billion dollars a year, made at the 2015 Paris conference on climate.

In an address delivered early this week at a virtual summit held on the margins of the UN General Assembly, the Belgian Prime Minister had stated that the federal government was increasing its financing commitment to 100 million euros a year. “We are determined to increase it even more in the years to come,” he stressed, adding that this was “a matter of life and death.”

“If we fail to act on the climate crisis, we will not only lose more lives, but global tensions, instability and insecurity will increase,” he said.

Climate was just one three challenges highlighted by Mr. De Croo. Another was the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which requires “vaccine solidarity” if it is to be overcome.

“It is unacceptable that today less than 4% of Africa’s population is fully vaccinated,” he said, pointing to the need to boost local vaccine production and to be better prepared for the next pandemic.

The third challenge is international security and the fight against terrorism. In this regard, Mr. De Croo stressed the need for humanitarian aid in Afghanistan – where the United Nations can be close to the population – to prevent the country from imploding. “Turning our back on the Afghan people would come at a high cost,” he warned.

The guiding principle in the fight against COVID-19 – “No one is safe until everyone is safe”- also needs to be the guiding principle for the two other challenges, the Belgian Prime Minister stressed. “Let that guideline inspire our actions every day,” he concluded.

Also addressing the General Assembly were Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmès and, from the public gallery, Mrs. De Croo.

The Brussels Times

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