UN Secretary-General Calls for Exponential Growth in Global Coalition to Achieve Net-Zero Emissions

UN Climate Change News, 8 February 2021 – UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, today called on all governments to come forward with significantly more ambitious nationally determined contributions by the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, at the latest, with 2030 targets consistent with a net zero pathway.

During a briefing to Member States, Mr. Guterres cited an exponential growth of the global coalition for net zero emissions as a ‘central objective for the United Nations this year.’

Despite the current ‘meaningful momentum’ in tackling the climate crisis – which includes countries representing current 70% of the world economy and 65%of global carbon dioxide emissions having now committed to net zero – the UN Chief said this was not enough, with the world still way off target in keeping the global temperature rise to within the 1.5-degree limit of the Paris Agreement.

The drive for net zero emissions, he said, must become ‘the new normal for everyone, everywhere – every country, company, city and financial institution, as well as key sectors such as aviation, shipping, industry and agriculture,’ adding that all commitments to net zero must be underpinned by clear and credible plans to achieve them, with major economies and members of the G20 leading the way.

In this regard, he cited the phasing out of coal by 2030 in OECD countries, and by 2040 in all other countries, as crucial to achieving net zero emissions. He also stressed the need for developing countries, particularly the Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries, to receive the necessary support to enhance their climate ambition.

Building resilience to the impacts of climate change

Highlighting the worsening climate impacts around the world, including the two devastating cyclones that have struck Fiji and other Pacific islands in the space of a few weeks, Mr. Guterres also called for a breakthrough on adapting and building resilience to the effects of climate change, which is a further priority for the United Nations this year.

Welcoming the commitment by the Netherlands at the recent Climate Adaptation Summit as well as the steps taken by the African Development Bank and the World Bank, he called on all donors and the Multilateral Development Banks to increase the share of adaptation and resilience finance to at least 50% of their climate finance support.

Increasing climate support for the most vulnerable

With climate finance flowing to LDCs and SIDS currently standing at 14% and 2% respectively, Mr. Guterres spoke of a a ‘moral obligation to do much better’ in supporting the most vulnerable countries in taking climate action. He urged developed countries – particularly G7 countries – to meet their commitment made over ten years ago to mobilize $100 billion per year in climate finance in developing countries, adding that this must be fully delivered in the run-up to COP26.

Looking ahead to COP26, Mr. Guterres said: ‘I cannot overestimate the importance of the negotiations in the months ahead of Glasgow,’ and that the clear message to governments must be: ‘It is time to wrap up negotiations and move towards its full implementation,’ adding that ‘For everyone to win, everyone must be ready to make compromises.’

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