By Pita Ligaiula at COP28 in Dubai, UAE

As the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) kicks off in Dubai, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell delivered a stern message, emphasising the critical need for bold actions to combat the escalating climate crisis.

“This year’s climate conference comes as the crisis enters a new phase – and shows its full force, harming billions of people, and costing trillions,” Stiell warned.

He said that no country is immune, and while the crisis affects everyone, most governments are still taking insufficient steps.

Stiell challenged the prevalent “business-as-usual” approach, asserting that it is breaking our planet.

He called on leaders at COP28 to tackle this pressing issue, emphasising that mere photo opportunities won’t suffice.

“The problem is clear: business-as-usual is breaking our planet. At the COP28 climate conference, leaders must get to work fixing it,” Stiell insists.

Referring to the Global Stocktake completed by UN Climate Change, Stiell identifies the areas where progress has stalled.

However, he pointed out that the Stocktake also provides tools to expedite climate action significantly, urging governments to wield these tools effectively.

“At COP28, governments must deliver on two time frames: a surge in climate action now, and a springboard for the next two crucial years, and beyond,” Stiell stresses.

He acknowledges the presence of over 160 world leaders at COP28 but cautions against it being a mere photo-op.

Stiell demands tangible outcomes from the conference, insisting that leaders must agree to triple renewable energy this decade and double energy efficiency.

Stiell advocated for justice for developing nations that have been historically marginalised in climate discussions.

He highlighted the historic Loss & Damage Fund established at last year’s COP in Egypt and insists that COP28 in the UAE must reinforce this fund with substantial financial commitments.

“Table scraps won’t cut it,” Stiell emphasised, stressing the need for significant financial contributions.

He argued that finance is the linchpin for effective climate action and calls for substantial funding to boost climate resilience in developing countries.

The executive secretary emphasised the necessity of abandoning fossil fuel dependency and embracing renewable energy for a sustainable future.

He outlined the myriad benefits of renewable energy, including job creation, economic growth, reduced pollution, and improved public health.

Stiell said COP28 in Dubai as an opportunity to build bridges in a fractured world. He appeals for unity around the common cause of survival, justice, and prosperity, highlighting that while divisions may destroy, solutions can save.

“At COP28, it’s time for us all to get to work,” Stiell concluded, setting the tone for urgent and decisive climate action at the conference.