Nature and Biodiversity

COP27: The top quotes from climate and world leaders at the UN summit

Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres speaks as he attends the COP27 climate summit.

'We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator,' says UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Image: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Kate Whiting
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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COP28

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This article was published on 11 November and updated on 21 November.

  • COP27, the UN climate summit, has concluded with a 'loss and damage' deal after two weeks of talks in Egypt from 6 to 20 November.
  • Here are some of the top quotes from the world leaders and climate delegates that took part.

World leaders, policymakers and delegates from nearly 200 countries met in Egypt at the COP27 UN climate summit, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.

Discussions ended on Sunday, 20 November, with a hard-fought deal to create a 'loss and damage' fund to help poor countries being battered by climate disasters.

Here are some of the key quotes from leaders over the two weeks...

"There can be no effective climate policy without the peace ... There are still many for whom climate change is just rhetoric or marketing ... but not real action ... They are the ones who start wars of aggression when the planet cannot afford a single gunshot because it needs global joint action."

—Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine

"The climate crisis is about human security, economic security, environmental security, national security, and the very life of the planet ... It's more urgent than ever that we double down on our climate commitments. Russia's war only enhances the urgency of the need to transition the world off its dependence on fossil fuels."

Joe Biden, US President

"Greenhouse gas emissions keep growing. Global temperatures keep rising. And our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible. We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator."

—António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations

António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations
COP27 climate change Average temperature anomaly, global
How global temperatures have risen over the past two centuries. Image: Our World in Data

"I'm here today to say that Brazil is ready to come back ... There is no climate security for the world without a protected Amazon. We will spare no efforts to have zero deforestation and the degradation of our biomes by 2030."

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazilian President-elect

"The global fossil fuel crisis must be a game-changer. So let us not take the 'highway to hell' but let's earn the clean ticket to heaven."

—Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

"In the face of impending catastrophe, whose warning signs are already unbearably disastrous, weak action is unwise. No action is dangerous."

—William Ruto, President of Kenya

William Ruto, President of Kenya

"The dystopia has already come to our doorstep ... The political advances we make here will have very little meaning on the ground unless there is a transfer of resources that shifts the needle on how people face the future."

—Sherry Rehman, Minister of Climate Change, Pakistan

Sherry Rehman, Minister of Climate Change, Pakistan
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"When nations such as Pakistan undergo the kind of profound shock they've just gone through, when small island nations in the Caribbean every year worry about in 12 hours losing a third or more of their GDP ... you have created an economically impossible scenario."

—Achim Steiner, Administrator of the UN Development Programme

Achim Steiner, Administrator of the UN Development Programme

"Everybody was flexible for the cause of loss and damage and the disasters and people dying and the economy being lost. I thank all the parties ... who were not flexible initially but who were flexible now."

Kunal Satyarthi, India Negotiator on Loss and Damage

"Indigenous people, local communities, young people, women and girls, should be leaders of climate action and not victims of climate policies."

Archana Soreng, Member of United Nations Secretary General's Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change

"There is no money going to Sub-Saharan Africa. Full stop. I would like to challenge everybody: Do more."

—Axel van Trotsenburg, Managing Director of Operations, World Bank

Axel van Trotsenburg, Managing Director of Operations, World Bank
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"We must see the so-called 'dash for gas' for what it really is: a dash down a bridge to nowhere, leaving the countries of the world facing climate chaos and billions in stranded assets, especially here in Africa. We have to move beyond the era of fossil fuel colonialism."

—Al Gore, former US Vice-President

Al Gore, former US Vice-President

"We are, in fact, climate negative. But despite this, we are highly climate vulnerable ... Promises made must be kept. Therefore, on behalf of all children and the next generation, we urgently call on historic emitters to do their part to safeguard our world. My country is doing our part with the limited resources and capacity."

—Chandrikapersad Santokhi, President of Suriname

Chandrikapersad Santokhi, President of Suriname

"Climate security goes hand in hand with energy security. Putin's abhorrent war in Ukraine and rising energy prices across the world are not a reason to go slow on climate change. They are a reason to act faster."

—Rishi Sunak, British Prime Minister

Rishi Sunak, British Prime Minister

"No matter how much the external environment changes, and no matter how many challenges we face, China has firm determination to achieve this vision of carbon neutrality."

—Xie Zhenhua, Chinese Climate Envoy

Xie Zhenhua, Chinese Climate Envoy

"It is up to the G20 countries responsible for 80% of global emissions that we are beholden to for our survival. Our survival is being held to ransom at the cost of profit and an unwillingness to act despite the ability to do so."

—Mark Brown, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands

Mark Brown, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands
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