UN Chief Criticizes World Leaders At Climate Summit



(Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

By Stephanie Stahl
3:15 PM – Thursday, September 21, 2023

The head of the United Nations (UN) delivered a speech at the Climate Ambition Summit, pleading with world leaders to take action in better addressing climate change. 

In his opening remarks on Wednesday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “humanity has opened the gates of hell,” warning that the future of the world is “unstable.” 

“Our focus here is on climate solutions – and our task is urgent. Horrendous heat is having horrendous effects. Distraught farmers watching crops carried away by floods, sweltering temperatures spawning disease and thousands fleeing in fear as historic fires rage. Climate action is dwarfed by the scale of the challenge,” Guterres declared. 

The aim of the Climate Ambition Summit, which was hosted by the U.N., was to increase ambitions on climate action. It also served as a mid-point review of its “2030 agenda.”

The two summits are the latest in a long line of international meetings designed to “address climate change and build global momentum” toward phasing out fossil fuels. 

“We must make up for time lost to foot-dragging, arm-twisting and the naked greed of entrenched interests raking in billions from fossil fuels,” Guterres continued.

He also addressed the countries that are considered to be “major emitters,” imploring them “to make extra efforts to cut emissions.”

He called on wealthy countries and urged them to better support emerging economies.

Representatives from 200 countries were present in New York for the summit, however, only 34 nations and 7 non-governmental bodies were given speaking slots.

Missing from the list of speakers was some of the world’s biggest polluters, like China, India, and the United States. 

However, President Biden decided to skip the summit, sending U.S. climate envoy John Kerry in his place.

The 32 national leaders who were asked to speak at the summit and the countries they represent only account for 11% of the world’s carbon dioxide pollution.