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UN's Guterres Shows Concern Over Fossil Fuel Sector's 'Naked Greed' As Nations Critique Major Polluters

The two-week U.N. climate summit, COP28, due to start on Nov. 29 in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Guterres and leaders from climate-vulnerable nations implored policymakers around the world to phase out climate-warming fossil fuels

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Leaders and representatives from various nations gathered at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to address a climate summit, expressing their concerns about the insufficient efforts of major polluters in combatting global warming. 

Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General, UN emphasised the urgency of the situation, attributing the impending climate crisis to the relentless pursuit of profit by fossil fuel entities. The focus now shifts to the upcoming two-week UN climate summit, COP28, set to commence on November 29 in Dubai, UAE. 

Guterres and leaders from climate-vulnerable nations appealed to policymakers worldwide to initiate the phase-out of climate-warming fossil fuels.

He also extended invitations to 34 countries recognized for their robust climate change actions, including Brazil, Canada, Pakistan, South Africa and Tuvalu. While some voiced criticism against the fossil fuel industry and the continued dependence on oil, gas and coal, others stressed the necessity of reforming financial institutions to enhance funding accessibility for developing nations.

David Kabua, President, Marshall Islands, a tropical South Pacific nation grappling with land loss due to rising sea levels, detailed his government's efforts to prepare for a warmer world. Notably absent from the speaking roster were the world's top two polluters, the United States and China, though U.S. Special Envoy on Climate Change John Kerry was present. 

China's UN mission did not respond immediately to requests for comment. The omission of both China and the United States drew attention, sparking concerns among climate activists about potential sluggish progress leading up to COP28.

California Governor Gavin Newsom discussed his state's leadership in climate policies, including a ban on the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035. He also called out the oil industry for obstructing climate action. 

Meanwhile, Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva announced Brazil's commitment to raising its emission reduction target to 50 to 53 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, signalling a shift from the policies of the previous president, Jair Bolsonaro, under the leadership of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Thailand's Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin revealed that his country had elevated its emission reduction goal from 20 to 40 per cent below business-as-usual projections by 2030, alongside the establishment of a climate change ministry. 

While the UAE did not disclose its national climate plans at the event, the UAE's COP28 President Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber was scheduled to outline the country's priorities for the upcoming two-week summit. With only 70 days remaining, until COP28 convenes, the head of Barbados questioned the emphasis on the Ukraine conflict during this week's UNGA sessions.

Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, representing the bloc of least developed countries, called for a doubling of financial support to adapt to a climate-altered world, especially as this year is on course to be the warmest on record. 

Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, urged nations to discontinue fossil fuel subsidies, noting that they had surged to a record USD 7 trillion the previous year, despite a global commitment in 2021 to phase them out. 

Additionally, the U.N.'s Green Climate Fund, responsible for disbursing climate finance to developing nations, unveiled a target to amass at least $50 billion in capital by 2030. The fund will also shift its focus from individual projects to the transformation of entire systems, according to the fund's executive director, Mafalda Duarte.