British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday declared that it was time to act faster on climate change because it is the “right thing to do” as he committed 11.6 billion pounds as the country’s commitment to the climate fund during his address at the COP27 summit in Egypt.
In his first major address on the world stage since taking charge at 10 Downing Street, the Indian-origin leader pointed to green energy investment as a “fantastic source of new jobs and growth” as he pledged to build on the “room for hope” created during the UK’s presidency of COP26 in Scotland last November.
He also used his speech to pay tribute to COP26 President, Indian-origin former minister Alok Sharma, “for his inspiring work” to deliver on the Glasgow climate pact of last year.
“Russian President 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 go faster,” said Sunak, in his relatively short address at the summit being held in Sharm El Sheikh.
“Instead of developing countries being unfairly burdened with the carbon debt of richer nations and somehow expected to forgo that same path to growth, we are helping those countries deliver their own fast track to clean growth,” he said.
Sunak referenced a speech by the late Queen Elizabeth II to the COP26 summit last year, where she said there was “hope” for the climate if countries come together.
“She reflected how history has shown when nations come together in common cause, there is always room for hope. I believe we found room for hope in Glasgow with one last chance to create a plan that would limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees, we made the promises to keep that goal within reach. And the question today is this – can we summon the collective will to deliver them? I believe we can,” he said.
The UK Prime Minister reflected on the fact 90 per cent of countries are now signed up to net zero targets even as he admitted the pandemic “all but broke” the global economy.
“But I can tell you today the United Kingdom is delivering on our commitment of 11.6 billion pounds, and as part of this we will now triple our funding on adaptation to 1.5 billion pounds by 2025,” he said, adding that he “profoundly” believed it is the right thing to do.
“Listen to Prime Minister Motley of Barbados as she describes the existential threat posed by the ravages of climate change, or look at the devastating floods in Pakistan where the area underwater is the same size as the entire United Kingdom.
“When you see 33 million people displaced, with disease rife and spreading through the water, you know it is morally right to honour our promises. But it is also economically right too. Climate security goes hand-in-hand with energy security,” Sunak said.
Sunak called on nations to honour the promises made in Glasgow and direct public and private finance towards the protection of the planet, which would turn the struggle against climate change into a global mission for new jobs and clean growth.
“And we can bequeath our children a greener planet and a more prosperous future. That’s a legacy we could be proud of. So, as we come together once again in common cause today, there really is room for hope. Together, let us fulfil it,” he noted.
Earlier on Monday, he held a series of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit in Egypt, including his first in-person interaction with French President Emmannuel Macron and European Commission President Urusula Von Der Leyen.
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