The UN climate change chief has told Sky News that there has never been such a ‘tense’ and ‘dividing’ geopolitical environment ahead of a UN climate change summit as there has been. currently there are.

Speaking a few days before the COP27 The summit begins on Sunday in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, Simon Stiell said the situation is “distracting” governments from tackling the climate crisis.

He said: “If there is one crisis that defines our time, it is the climate crisis.

“All the other things; interest rates, the cost of living, even wars are coming to an end – but climate change is only progressing.

“We have seen distracted governments since we left Glasgow.”

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La Vinuela Reservoir near Malaga in southern Spain during extreme summer heat

Stiell, whose formal title is Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate change (UNFCCC), told Sky News: “I don’t think there has ever been such a tense and divisive geopolitical environment as we have now as we enter this COP.

“Yes, the world is distracted… Sharm el-Sheikh gives us the opportunity to refocus.”

COP27 aims to increase emissions reduction actions and increase finance for developing countries so they can adapt to the changes that are already here.

Read more: Rishi Sunak promises UK will lead the fight against climate change – after COP27 U-turn

But the overriding issue is probably that of loss and damage, which refers to payments from rich countries to low-income countries as compensation for damage caused by climate change.

This is something wealthy countries like the United States have been reluctant to consider, but negotiations are underway behind the scenes to have the issue officially put on the COP27 agenda for discussion.

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Are the carbon commitments respected?

Mr Stiell, who was previously Grenada’s climate envoy, added: “I don’t know if I’m wearing my old hat as a minister of a small island developing state or as the executive secretary of the UNFCCC, but when you look at it from a practical point of view and you look at it from a moral point of view, those who are most vulnerable, those who suffer the most from the impacts of climate change are those who have the least contributed.

“And it is the major industrialized developed countries that bear this responsibility and must find a solution.

“Climate change does not wait. These losses… the damage caused by climate impacts… are being felt every day and are only increasing.”

COP27 in Egypt runs from November 6-18.

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