Guterres calls for accelerated climate action through global cooperation

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
UN Secretary-General Antonio GuterresFile

United Nations, Apr 21: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for accelerated climate action through global cooperation.

"We need global acceleration through cooperation. And that means rising above disagreements, differences and tensions. Geopolitical divisions must not torpedo the world's climate fight for 1.5 degrees," he told the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate in a video message on Thursday, Xinhua news agency reported.

"You are the major economies -- but also the major emitters. And our world has a major climate challenge before us. Today's policies would make our world 2.8 degrees hotter by the end of the century. And this is a death sentence," said Guterres.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has made clear that it is still possible to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels -- but only if the world takes a quantum leap in climate action. And that depends on the major economies, he said.

Guterres called for accelerated action in three areas.

First, net-zero deadlines

He called on leaders of developed countries to commit to reaching net-zero emissions as close as possible to 2040 and on leaders of emerging economies to commit to reaching net-zero as close as possible to 2050.

"And I also urge all countries, developed and developing, to step up their national climate action plans, or NDCs, to bring them in line with the 1.5 degrees goal," he said, referring to Nationally Determined Contributions.

Second, departure from fossil fuels

Renewables can deliver -- on access, affordability, and energy security. And the science is clear: new fossil fuel projects are entirely incompatible with 1.5 degrees. Yet many countries are expanding capacity on fossil fuels, he said. "And I urge you to change course: phase out coal by 2030 in OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries and 2040 in all others; end all licensing or funding -- both public and private -- of new fossil fuel projects; make sure generation of electricity is net-zero by 2035 in developed countries, and 2040 elsewhere; decarbonize major sectors faster -- from shipping, aviation and steel, to cement, aluminum and agriculture -- in close cooperation with the private sector; put a price on carbon; shift fossil fuel subsidies to finance a just transition to renewables."

Third, acceleration of climate justice by reforming the international financial system.

He asked the leaders of the major economies, as major shareholders of multilateral development banks, to push them to coordinate their operations better, and to overhaul their business models and approaches to risk, in order to turbocharge climate action and sustainable development.

Developed countries must also deliver on the commitments made in previous UN Climate Change conferences. Adaptation must reach 50 percent of climate finance. The loss and damage fund must be operationalized. And the Green Climate Fund must be replenished, said Guterres.

The Major Economies Forum held its fourth meeting -- in virtual format -- on Thursday under the auspices of the US government.

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