New York, 21 September 2023 (TDI): United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres addressed the Climate Ambition Summit in New York on September 20, 2023, outlining the critical need for immediate and robust climate action.
His speech underscored the urgency of the global climate crisis and its devastating consequences. Guterres began by characterizing the current state of affairs as “humanity opening the gates of hell.”
He detailed the severe repercussions of climate change, including heart-wrenching scenes of farmers losing crops to floods, disease outbreaks exacerbated by soaring temperatures, and the terror of historic wildfires forcing mass evacuations.
He issued a stark warning, that without substantial intervention, the world is inexorably headed toward a perilous 2.8°C temperature increase.
Human activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels, have already driven global temperatures up by approximately 1.2°C.
Despite these dire circumstances, Guterres conveyed a message of hope, emphasizing that it is still possible to restrict global temperature rise to the crucial 1.5°C threshold.
He acknowledged the contributions of climate activists, Indigenous Peoples defending their ancestral lands, transformative business leaders, and governments committed to phasing out fossil fuels.
He underscored the importance of global solidarity and support, particularly for climate champions in developing nations.
Guterres introduced the Climate Solidarity Pact, calling on major emitters to intensify emissions reductions while urging wealthy nations to assist emerging economies.
Additionally, he proposed the Acceleration Agenda, which urges developed countries to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040 and emerging economies by 2050.
All while maintaining a focus on equitable energy transitions, the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies, and ambitious renewable energy targets aligned with the 1.5°C goal.
Guterres championed climate justice and acknowledged the righteous anger of the world’s poorest nations, which bear the brunt of a crisis they did not create.
He emphasized the role of governments in reshaping the global financial system to support climate action, including the implementation of carbon pricing.
The UN Chief advocated for the operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund at COP28, the replenishment of the Green Climate Fund, and the doubling of adaptation funding.
He stressed the urgency of establishing a comprehensive early warning system for all nations by 2027.
Guterres turned his attention to the corporate sector, calling on businesses and financial institutions to embark on genuine net-zero pathways.
He criticized companies with disingenuous pledges and those attempting to obstruct the transition to a net-zero economy.
The emphasis was placed on the necessity of creating just transition plans that not only effectively reduce emissions but also deliver climate justice.
In his concluding remarks, the UN Secretary-General reiterated that the future of humanity lies squarely in the hands of world leaders.
While acknowledging that one Summit alone cannot revolutionize the world, he stressed the pivotal importance of generating momentum in the months leading up to the COP.
Guterres called for a swifter tempo in climate action, emphasizing the need to convert plans into tangible, transformative actions to combat the existential climate crisis.