Ban Ki-moon: UAE is a champion of climate protection

Former UN chief hopes COP 28 will have a detailed roadmap to counter global warming with concrete action


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Fri 27 Jan 2023, 6:21 PM

Former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who is visiting Dubai , said that the UAE has always been a champion of climate protection despite it being a big energy-producing nation.

In an exclusive interview to Khaleej Times on Friday, he said the fact that the country is hosting COP28, reflects its approach towards sustainability.

With the UAE hosting the world’s biggest UN climate conference and the President, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, announcing 2023, as the Year of Sustainability, the intergovernmental organisation’s eighth Secretary-General said it is a testament to the growing influence that the UAE and its activities exert on the rest of the world, on the sidelines of his talks with the Model United Nations (MUN) committee students of Gems World Academy.

“I have visited almost all the countries around the world and the UAE has been one of the countries where I have been visiting so often for various reasons. That’s because the UAE has been taking initiatives on many different issues. They have been taking initiatives on energy and climate, among other things. They have been one of the strong partners and supporters for the cause of the United Nations Charter.

"Their leadership has always been appreciated by the United Nations and leaders of other continents. I hope the UAE and the presidency of COP28 will really have some concrete commitments.”

Speaking about the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27 that closed with a breakthrough agreement to provide “loss and damage” funding for vulnerable countries hit hard by climate disasters, Ban Ki-moon said: “The first thing is that there was an agreement on ‘loss and damage’. It took 30 years to agree on ‘loss and damage’. I hope it will not take another 30 years to implement this.”

Ban Ki-moon adds: “It is a matter of political will and financial support. Some of the world’s big countries have polluted (the Earth), in the name of industrialisation and economic development. Now, we have nowhere to go. We have reached the dead end. We have to break this with concerted effort. We need financial and technological support by the developed world to help the developing world, particularly Africa, small islands, developing states in South Pacific and the Caribbean.”

Ban hopes COP 28 will have a detailed roadmap to counter climate change with concrete action. He said he is hopeful that the historic agreements made in principle will see concrete global solutions.

“I hope this COP28 will have detailed roadmaps agreed upon… that's very important. Another thing is implementation of unfinished promises. In Copenhagen during COP15 world leaders, particularly the United States, Japan, European Union and all these OECD countries promised to encourage the leaders of developing countries to join in climate agreement and that they would provide 100 billion dollars of financial support starting from 2020. We are now in 2023. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is just an empty shelf.”

The former UN chief pointed out the need for multilateral cooperation in combating climate change, urging all countries to take responsibility for expediting decarbonisation to leave a better world for the coming generations.

“We have to do something concrete for our next generation. They will soon be the leaders. We will soon retire. Then they have to do their own work. Carbon neutrality should be the topmost priority on the agenda at this time. Nature has been giving us repeated warnings by way of natural disasters.”

He adds: “Look at the case of Pakistan last year, one third of Pakistan was under the water. Same thing happened exactly 10 years ago in Pakistan. Then, all the wildfires that we’ve seen are also a grim reminder. Europeans have suffered due to rising temperatures and from very hot summers. In some areas, the temperature rose as high as 47 degrees Celsius. These are all big messages from Mother Nature. Why did Coronavirus happen? That’s because we have neglected our role to live harmoniously with nature.”

He urged countries to strengthen cooperation, innovation, engagement and action while forging new partnerships, and to look at sustainability as seminal for the future.

“Animals have been losing their habitat. Naturally human beings and animals have come into contact. That has probably resulted in the Coronavirus. We have already learnt hard lessons. What else should we suffer? Therefore, we have to make sure that without addressing climate issues, without listening to the voices of the Nature, we will have no future. Then we will have to regret and face challenges and tragedies (like the pandemic) and our succeeding generations may have to pay the price.”


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