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Upcoming Climate Summit at Risk of Failure, Paris Targets Could ‘Go Up in Smoke’, Secretary-General Warns Major Economies Forum, Urging Coalition-Building

Following are Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, held today:

President [Joseph R.] Biden, thank you for inviting me.  Excellencies, you represent the world’s leading economies.  And the world now needs your leadership more than ever.

The recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was a code red for humanity.  But, it also made clear that it is not too late to meet the [Paris Agreement on climate change] 1.5°C target.  We are rapidly running out of time.  We must step up our efforts.

Today, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) published its synthesis report on the nationally determined contributions.  We need a 45 per cent cut in emissions by 2030 to reach carbon neutrality by mid‑century.

Today’s data implies an increase of 16 per cent in emissions in 2030 compared to 2010 levels.  The world is on a catastrophic pathway to 2.7°C of heating.  There is a high risk of failure of [the twenty-sixth United Nations Conference on Climate Change], COP26.

It is clear that everyone must assume their responsibilities.  We need more ambition on finance, adaptation and mitigation.  On finance, developed countries must fulfil the long‑standing pledge to mobilize $100 billion per year to support climate action in developing countries.

Today, the Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development (OECD) — which essentially represents the developed world — published its annual report on climate finance.  They still reveal a gap of at least $20 billion.

This is a crucial question of trust.  Support from international financial institutions is also critical.  So is the mobilization of assistance from the private sector, both financial and technological.

Moving to adaptation, we know levels of finance for this crucial component are still far too low.  Developing countries received only $16.8 billion in 2018, compared to adaptation costs of some $70 billion.  These costs are expected to grow to as much as $300 billion per year by 2030.

We must commit at least 50 per cent of climate finance to adaptation.  I thank Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands who have stepped up in this direction.  We need more to join this coalition.

On mitigation, I do understand the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.  And developed countries certainly need to take the lead.  But, it is essential for several emerging economies to go the extra mile and effectively contribute to emissions reductions.

I want to mention one specific challenge.  Energy — coal in particular.  If all planned coal power plants become operational, we will not only be clearly above 1.5°C, we will be well above 2°C.  The Paris targets would go up in smoke.

We need coalitions of solidarity between countries that still depend heavily on coal and countries that have the financial and technical resources to support transitions.

The fight against climate change will only succeed if everyone in this room comes together to promote more ambition, more cooperation and more credibility.

The world demands that all of us — but essentially you, as the leading economies of the world — take immediate action to lead us towards a sustainable and resilient future.

I ask you to rebuild the spirit of collaboration, cooperation and goodwill that were the hallmarks of the Paris Agreement.  I ask you to consider how we can deliver success in Glasgow.

Prime Minister [Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom] and I have invited you all to the leaders’ dialogue we are convening in New York on 20 September to continue this conversation.  I look forward to your engagement.


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