A lack of financing risks scuppering the ambitious but vital climate goals agreed in Paris in 2015, leading officials warned.
Alok Sharma, the president of the 2021 UN climate conference known as Cop26, said not enough was being done to commit to a net zero-emissions world and said we face an “apocalyptic future” unless action was taken.
Speaking to a high-level summit hosted by the International Energy Agency and organisers of Cop26 – which will be held in Glasgow in November – Mr Sharma said “on our current course we are heading for global temperature rises of more than 3°C”.
Under the Paris Agreement, which was signed by almost all countries, signatories pledged to limit global warming to well below 2°C – and preferably 1.5°C – compared to pre-industrial levels.
“Without adequate finance, the task ahead is well-nigh impossible,” Mr Sharma said.
Addressing foreign government officials at a separate ministerial meeting, he said “the communities that have done the least to cause the climate crisis are suffering the most”.
Mr Sharma said the problems that the meetings on Wednesday sought to address were not new.
“We have heard time and again that a lack of solutions on finance, adaptation and debt are limiting climate action in the world’s most vulnerable communities. But it is absolutely vital that we now break the inertia and find some solutions,” Mr Sharma said.
The UAE was due to be represented by Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology Dr Sultan Al Jaber, who was appointed special envoy for climate change in November 2020.
The UK’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said more consideration was needed to identify “where international systems can do more to deliver urgent climate action”.
“We know that the lack of finance creates barriers to countries implementing the Paris Agreement,” he said.
“Combined with the challenge of recovering from the pandemic, this obviously risks setting back progress.”
The virtual meeting brought together governments, development banks and other key players to discuss a solution to the devastating impacts of climate change. But it will also look at opportunities for energy access, clean air and smarter cities.
John Kerry, US presidential envoy for climate change and former secretary of state, said “we can’t just willy-nilly ignore the next 10 years”.
“Why? Because, once again, the scientists tell us that if we don’t do enough in these 10 years, we cannot keep the Earth’s temperature at 1.5°C.
“If we don’t do enough in the next 10 years, we cannot even get on a roadmap to net zero by 2050, because no country can reduce the emissions sufficiently with the curve you have after 2030 if we don’t do enough now,” Mr Kerry said.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan called for a debt relief programme for developing countries and enhanced financing for green investment.
Without them, many countries could instead rely on the “default fossil fuel-powered pathways” and the chances of a clean energy transition would diminish.
"We expect this to be a moment for the world's major economies to come forward and galvanise supportive finance for responsible countries like Pakistan, that are doing their best to reduce emissions," he wrote in The Times.