Rising extreme weather disasters ‘sign of things to come,’ warns UN climate chief

Rising extreme weather disasters ‘sign of things to come,’ warns UN climate chief
Rising extreme weather disasters ‘sign of things to come,’ warns UN climate chief

Africa-Press – Eritrea. Extreme weather patterns being seen around the world are “just a sign of things to come,” the UN’s top climate official has warned.

All these climate disasters, from droughts to wildfires and floods, serve as stark reminders of the urgent need for accelerated action, Simon Stiell, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), told Anadolu in an exclusive interview in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

“What we are seeing are the impacts and effects of climate change now accelerating, and it’s just amazing in the last few years, very recent times, we’ve seen records broken over and over again, and this is just a sign of things to come,” he said.

Stiell, who was in Nairobi for the inaugural Africa Climate Summit, was referring to extreme weather events including the current drought in East Africa, particularly affecting Kenya, where the summit was held.

The drought, the region’s worst in at least 40 years, has displaced millions of people and pushed millions more to the brink of famine.

Last year, there was a locust invasion in East Africa that experts said was the worst for Kenya in 70 years and at least 25 years for Ethiopia and Somalia.

About the summit, Stiell said the significant pledges made at the event have raised hopes for concrete efforts, but the challenge lies in their actual implementation.

The event brought together leaders and decision-makers from across Africa to confront the climate crisis head-on, providing “an opportunity to lay out not only Africa’s priorities, but also coming forward with solutions,” he said.

“Cross-border collaboration is absolutely essential in the wider climate negotiations, where you have unified regional voices which will culminate in COP28 at the end of the year,” he said, referring to the UN Climate Change Conference to be held in Dubai from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12.

Real action on the ground’

The Africa Climate Summit saw “strong leadership from leaders around the region,” said Stiell.

He acknowledged that substantial pledges were made by entities such as the US, UAE and the EU, but cautioned that the real challenge lies in implementation.

The pledges are positive signals but they only scratch the surface of what is needed globally, particularly in supporting vulnerable and developing nations, he added.

What matters is how “that translates into real action on the ground,” he stressed.

Turning to energy initiatives, Stiell said efforts such as the EU’s Green Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap and the UAE’s $4.5 billion financial support pledge for energy transition are steps in the right direction.

“We also know that what is needed goes far, far beyond those initiatives that come out of events like this, but it certainly sends a very powerful signal,” the UN official emphasized.

At the end of the summit on Wednesday, leaders adopted the Nairobi Declaration which urges global support for Africa.

It proposed “a new financing architecture that is responsive to Africa’s needs including debt restructuring and relief, including the development of a new Global Climate Finance Charter through UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) and COP (Conference of the Parties) processes by 2025.”

The declaration focused on the need for financial support from developed countries, particularly for them to fulfill their commitments to deliver $100 billion in annual climate finance.

Regarding UNFCCC’s role in the fight against climate change, Stiell reiterated the agency’s commitment to support global efforts to reduce emissions and curb global warming.

The UNFCCC mandate includes providing support to developing nations with a focus on local communities, he said.

The agency works to provide “support and space for representation, whether it is from Indigenous peoples, whether it is from communities, cities at sub-national levels,” he added.

“We know that in terms of real action and progress, that happens on the ground within local communities,” Stiell asserted.

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