Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting set to spur leaders to action

The meeting will take stock of progress being made ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit in New York in September

FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2009 file photo smoke rises from the steel company ThyssenKrupp in Duisburg , western Germany. Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have steadily increased since the days of the industrial revolution, contributing to the greenhouse effect that is spurring global warming.  (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, file)
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The Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, will open the Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting today by urging leaders to summon the political will to tackle the impact of climate change.

The two-day meeting in the UAE capital will gather more than 1,700 government ministers, business leaders and experts from the private and public sector from 160 countries. They will assess the progress made in implementing the goals set by the 2015 Paris Agreement and the challenges that lie ahead.

A group of young people will interview Mr Guterres following his opening remarks, reflecting an awareness that the younger generation plays a key role in the clean green energy revolution.

Dwelling on the opportunities offered by investing in the green economy, Mr Guterres has said, “people around the world are demanding immediate climate action and inclusive development".

“The green economy offers countless benefits. But to reap them we need rapid transition, deep transformation and political will,” he wrote on Twitter while attending the G20 summit in Osaka this week.

Climate change is the biggest threat we have ever faced but it is also our greatest opportunity. A clean and green future is good for the economy, your health and the planet's health

He has earlier called for greater ambition and bold action backed by concrete plans in renewable energy, emission reduction, sustainable infrastructure and agriculture.

Mr Guterres also made a reference to the scorching temperatures and heat wave across southern and central Europe with France registering an all-time high at 45.8°Con Saturday.

“The heatwaves reaching Europe are proof that climate change is striking everywhere and it is a serious public health threat,” Mr Guterres tweeted.

“Climate Action cannot wait.”

The call to action was also sounded by Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment.

Mr Zeyoudi urged residents to do their bit to prevent the planet’s natural resources from being eroded.

Extreme weather conditions caused by climate change put massive pressure on the ecosystem, he said in a video posted online, “It affects you. It affects me. It affects everyone.

“I have two simple messages for you. Climate change is the biggest threat we have ever faced but it is also our greatest opportunity. A clean and green future is good for the economy, your health and the planet’s health.”

He said the Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting aimed to compile solutions and build political support to deliver on the Paris Agreement.

The historic deal in 2015 brought consensus among the world’s nations about the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to keep global temperatures below 2°C above pre-industrial times and limit the increase to 1.5°C.

The meeting in UAE’s capital will help prepare for the UN Climate Action Summit in New York in September.

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of conservation group WWF for global climate and energy practice, said the meeting would give people a chance to take stock of the progress being made before the September high-level conference.

Describing the period as pivotal in history, he said momentum was urgently needed.

“Governments have a range of levers at their disposal – of tried and tested mechanisms, such as carbon pricing, energy efficiency standards and clean energy mandates – that can encourage companies and individuals to reduce their climate impacts,” he said.

The conference will also host a climate and health ministers meeting with non-government representatives to pinpoint measures that could save billions of dollars in health costs while battling climate change.