If governments continue with the same environmental policies currently in place, the world will become 2.8°C hotter by the end of the century, which would be “a death sentence”, warned the UN chief on Thursday.
Antonio Guterres was addressing via videolink, the fourth meeting of the Major Economies Forum, convened by the United States President Joe Biden, which is designed to galvanise efforts to keep the global temperature rise of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, within reach – in line with the Paris Agreement.
“You are the major economies – but also the major emitters. And our world has a major climate challenge before us”, said the Secretary-General in his remarks to world leaders.
“Today’s policies would make our world 2.8 degrees hotter by the end of the century. And this is a death sentence.”
He said the possibility remains, of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C: “But only if the world takes a quantum leap in climate action. And that depends on you. We need global acceleration through cooperation. And that means rising above disagreements, differences and tensions.”
He insisted that geopolitical division must not be allowed to torpedo the world’s climate fight, highlighting once again his proposal for a G20 industrialised nations’ Climate Solidarity Pact, where big emitters “make extra efforts to cut emissions; and wealthier countries support emerging economies to achieve this.”
He reiterated the need for accelerated action in three areas. First, “net zero deadlines”, calling on developed countries to reach net zero emissions as close as possible, to 2040, while leaders of emerging economies, aim for 2050.
“Second, I urge you to accelerate your move away from fossil fuels and towards a fair and just decarbonisation of every sector. Renewables can deliver – on access, affordability, and energy security.”
Thirdly, he called for accelerated climate justice, through reforming the international financial system, especially the Multilateral Development Banks, so that climate action and sustainable development can be “turbocharged”.
“You have the power to ensure that they leverage their funds to mobilize much more private finance at reasonable cost to developing countries, and that they end all support for fossil fuels”, he told leaders of major economies.
“You can pressure them to urgently transition and scale-up their funding to renewables, adaptation, and loss and damage.”
He said all developed countries had to deliver on their promises made at previous UN climate change summits, with adaptation funding reaching 50 percent of all financing.
“And the loss and damage fund must be operationalised; and the Green Climate Fund must be replenished”, said Guterres.
He welcomed the proactive approach of countries which have already got involved in the Acceleration Agenda to the Climate Ambition Summit, which will take place in New York in September: “Excellencies…I hope to see you there. Because this final fight for 1.5 degrees will be won or lost on your watch”, the UN chief concluded.