'We spend more on weapons than climate': Criticism over global inaction

International community raises alarm over growing threat to planet at Cop28

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World leaders came together on the Cop28 stage on Friday, to issue an urgent plea for action in the climate change fight, as the alarm was raised over the stark consequences facing the planet.

They told of the crucial need to adjust priorities, fulfil promises, hit targets, and ensure no nation is left behind, with no time to waste to safeguard the environment for future generations.

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva set the defiant tone on the second day of the crunch climate talks, saying governments were spending a fraction on climate compared to weapons.

“The planet is tired of climate agreements that were not fulfilled,” he said.

“How many leaders [are] committed to saving the planet, when only last year the world spent more than $2 trillion on weapons – amounts that could be invested to fight hunger and confront climate change issues.”

Mr da Silva even questioned how “many emissions were emitted by cruise missiles” flying over the heads of the world's poorest civilians.

He urged decision makers to stick to commitments on climate action, and to bring even greater ambition when Brazil hosts Cop30 “in the heart of the Amazon forest” in two years' time.

India eager to grasp Climate baton

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India said his country wanted to host the Cop climate conference in five years, as he set out a green agenda.

“A small section of humanity has indiscriminately exploited nature but the whole of humanity has paid the price, especially the global south,” he said.

“From this platform I propose India will host Cop33 in 2028. I hope that over the next 12 days the global stock-take review will show us the path to a secure and bright future.”

He unveiled a “pro-planet” initiative centred on green credits.

“This is a mass campaign that goes beyond the commercial mindset associated with carbon credits. It focuses on creating carbon sinks through people’s participation.

“We do not have much time to correct the mistakes of the past century.”

Climate challenges 'magnify' toll of war

Jordan's King Abdullah II warned climate change will serve to exacerbate the impact of war, amid a worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

“As we speak, the Palestinian people are facing an immediate threat to their lives and well-being,” King Abdullah said.

“Climate threats magnify the devastation of war. Much more needs to be done.”

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi said Cop28 was taking place against a backdrop of “grave political challenges that are no less dangerous than climate change.”

“Egypt is well aware of the importance of reinforcing collective work to address the challenge of climate change,” he said.

“It is important to underscore the principles of equity, just transition and collective but differentiated responsibility as precepts of multilateralism.

“We call on the international community to make more ambitious steps in Cop28 and refrain from unilateral acts that only serve self-interest.”

Facing harsh reality

Kenya's President William Ruto called for more climate support for Africa as the world faces up to the “defining challenge of our era”.

“The reality before us is irrefutable. we are hurtling on a trajectory to the dire scenario of a world that is warmer by 3°C,” he said.

“This crisis must never be seen as a distant threat.

“It is here, devastating nations regardless of their size and wealth.”

Droughts are now at least 100 times more likely than they were in the pre-industrial era, Mr Ruto added.

“All of us are already living in this dire reality,” he said.

“The situation in our Horn of Africa region and other developing countries lays bare the impact of climate change.

“Only 2 per cent of the $3 trillion invested in renewable energy has reached Africa. The consequences of this investment gap are starkly evident.”

Global emissions must peak by 2025

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, underlined the need to phase out fossil fuels and turn back the tide on global emission rises.

“This Cop is about ambition, it is about targets and it is about finance,” she said.

“Global emissions must peak by 2025. We must phase out fossil fuels and we must phase out methane emissions.”

She said EU emission levels had already peaked and pointed to new legislation aimed at greatly reducing methane emissions.

Charles Michel, President of the European Council, said no part of the world could avoid the consequences of climate change.

“No longer can any continent escape the tragedy of climate change,” he said.

“We need to maintain the goal of 1.5 °C and as soon as possible rid our dependence on fossil fuels.

“This summit is not just a conference. This summit is a review, a review of our conscience.

“The Earth belongs to all of us. It belongs to our children. This is not a publicity slogan, it is an existential reality.”

Updated: December 01, 2023, 2:11 PM