IEMA's Digital Journalist Tom Pashby discusses the declaration of UNFCCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell during the New York City Climate Week, ahead of COP27.

The new head of the UN’s international climate negotiations body, Simon Stiell, has declared: “We are in an emergency” in a speech to Climate Week in New York City, ahead of COP27 which will see diplomats gather in Egypt in November.

Simon Stiell, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), spoke to delegates at the opening of Climate Week which takes place annually in New York City and is run by The Climate Group. Stiell introduced himself by saying he is “a former businessman and environment minister from a small island nation” and urged delegates to focus on the human stories at the centre of many climate emergency-related challenges, such as sea level rise.

Stiell painted a stark picture, saying:

“We are in an emergency — and the enormous bedrock of science that this process is built upon, clearly shows that we are a species in trouble.

“Despite this data, recently reinforced by a series of IPCC Reports, humanity continues to pollute the skies, poison its oceans, and wreak havoc on our land and biodiversity.”

The former environment minister from Grenada took on the role at the head of the UNFCCC, which had been previously been held by Mauritania’s Ibrahim Thiaw in an acting capacity, and Mexico’s Patricia Espinosa before that. The most recent COP (Conference of the Parties) was COP26 in Glasgow following a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. COP27 will take place in Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh from 6 to 18 November 2022.

Stiell went on to say:

“Let’s seize the momentum we have and boost it.

“Paris, Glasgow, and a host of other conferences proved that climate change has slowly moved to the center of the international agenda.

“Now, it is essential to put it at the center of each national agenda. Because the only way to succeed globally is for all countries to play their role.

“This is, in a nutshell, why Sharm el-Sheikh must clearly show the pivot to a new era in our process: one that focuses on implementation.”

You can read Simon Stiell’s full bio here, the full speech here, and information about COP27 here.


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