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Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt

24hr Notice Can Cut 30% Damage from Hazardous Events: Guterres at COP27

“Universal early warning coverage can save lives and deliver huge financial benefits. And yet, around the world, vulnerable communities have no way of knowing that hazardous weather is on its way,” the UN chief said.

He made the remark at the launch of the early warnings for all executive action plans during the COP27 at Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, the press office of the COP27 disclosed to journalists.

Mentioning that the past eight years have been the hottest on record, Guterres said climate disruption is already drastically increasing the magnitude of natural disasters.

“Current climate policies will condemn the world to a disastrous 2.8-degree temperature rise by the end of the century. Our collective goal is to limit that rise to 1.5 degrees. But greenhouse gas emissions are still climbing. The climate has already changed dramatically,” the UN chief said.

Half of humanity is in the danger zone, he warned.

Guterres also emphasized that vulnerable communities in climate hotspots are being blindsided by cascading climate disasters without any means of prior alert. He especially mentioned people in Africa, South Asia, South and Central America, and the inhabitants of small island states, who are 15 times more likely to die from climate disasters.

“These disasters displace three times more people than war. And the situation is getting worse,” he said. “That is why, in March this year, I announced the target of ensuring that every person on Earth is protected by early warning systems within five years."

The Action Plan launched by the UN sets out the way forward to right this wrong, and protect lives and livelihoods, he added.

“With an initial investment of about $3.1 billion, we will be able to address gaps across the four key pillars of early warning systems, which are: understanding disaster risk, monitoring and forecasting, rapid communication and preparedness and response capacity,” Guterres explained.

The World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction would co-lead an Advisory Board to ensure the effective implementation of this plan.

The Board will provide strategic guidance to countries with existing early warning systems and help establish systems in vulnerable countries to reduce loss and damage. It will report on progress annually.

This story was produced as part of the 2022 Climate Change Media Partnership, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews' Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security. It was first published by The Business Post on 7 November and has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Banner image: United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks at the COP27 climate conference at Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Centre in Egypt's Red Sea resort city of the same name on November 7, 2022 / Credit: AFP.