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Jordan’s King Abdullah called on Wednesday for a “rethink” of international efforts against climate change and the coronavirus pandemic at a UN General Assembly that has been dominated by fears of the two crises.
King Abdullah said world leaders must stand together to face a “deadly pandemic, climate change, violent conflicts exploited by global extremists, destabilising economic fault lines [and] a continuing, global refugee crisis”.
The Hashemite royal called for UN members and international bodies to “pool our resources and respond quickly” to the interlocking threats by sharing vaccines, cutting back on emissions of planet-heating gases and other steps.
“Together, we can rethink, recalibrate and redirect our world away from danger,” the king said in a pre-recorded address.
“We know the threats, we know the opportunities. Now together, let's take the actions we need.”
Each country has different “strengths and capabilities to offer” as part of a “larger global response,” the king said in his seven-minute address, which offered no tangible new ideas for tackling the pandemic or global warming.
“We stand ready to utilise our country's strategic location — at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe — to facilitate the broadest international response,” he said.
The monarch also warned of Lebanon’s deepening economic and political crisis and called for renewed peacemaking to end the “unsustainable” seven-decade territorial dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.
He spoke on the second day of the week-long general debate of the UN assembly, which kicked off on Tuesday with a gloomy forecast of failures against tackling climate change and the coronavirus pandemic from UN chief Antonio Guterres.
The secretary general said the inequitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines was an “obscenity” and he gave world leaders the shameful grade of an “F in ethics”. Weak efforts on cutting emissions of planet-heating gases would lead to a “hellscape” world, he added.
In his speech to the assembly on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden called for an end to the era of “relentless wars” after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. He and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping said little to rile each other amid concerns of deteriorating US-China relations.
Mr Biden said the US would boost funding to help poor countries tackle climate change, Mr Xi said China would stop building coal-fuelled power stations abroad and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara would soon ratify the 2015 Paris climate deal.
The secretary general said he was “encouraged” by the pledges, but said “we still have a long way to go to make” a climate meet in Glasgow, Scotland, in November a “success and ensure that it marks a turning point in our collective efforts to address the climate crisis”.