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News > U.S.

UN Chief Calls for Accelerated Climate Action

  • Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres. Apr. 21, 2023.

    Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres. Apr. 21, 2023. | Photo: Twitter/@XHNorthAmerica

Published 21 April 2023

"...our world has a major climate challenge before us..."

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, issued a call on Thursday to expedite progress towards mitigating the effects of climate change through collaborative efforts on a global scale.


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"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.

"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 elucidated that restricting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above the pre-industrial epoch is yet viable; however, such an outcome requires a substantial change in climate action undertaken globally. According to the speaker, the outcome is contingent upon the major economies.

Guterres called for accelerated action in three areas: net-zero deadlines, departure from fossil fuels, and acceleration of climate justice by reforming the international financial system.

"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 when calling 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 urge you to change course: phase out coal by 2030 in OECD (Organization 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 renewable," he said when explaining new fossil fuel projects are entirely incompatible with 1.5 degrees. Yet many countries are expanding capacity on fossil fuels.

In a call for expediting the promotion of climate justice through the reformation of the global financial system, Guterres urged leaders of the prominent economies who hold substantial shares in multilateral development banks, to incorporate coordinated actions and usher in comprehensive reformations of their business models and risk-related methodologies. This is intended to augment endeavors pertaining to climate action and sustainable development, thus accelerating the attainment of desired outcomes.

Per the assertion made by Guterres, there exists the imperative for the industrialized nations to uphold the obligations prescribed within antecedent assemblies of the United Nations Climate Change Conferences. Additionally, the allocation of financial resources intended for addressing climate change must achieve a threshold of 50 percent dedicated towards adaptation efforts. The appropriate implementation of the loss and damage fund and replenishment of the Green Climate Fund are imperative.

Under the auspices of the U.S. government, the fourth meeting of the Major Economies Forum was held (in a virtual format) on Thursday.

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