10 October 2019
UN Secretary-General Highlights Santiago Conference as Opportunity for Accountability for Commitments
UN Photo/Cia Pak
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The UN Secretary-General warns that without increased ambition, the end of this century could see a global average temperature rise of 3°C above preindustrial levels.

He highlights the Santiago Climate Change Conference as an opportunity to hold those who made commitments during the UN Climate Action Summit accountable.

3 October 2019: UN Secretary-General António Guterres has written an opinion piece warning that while some understand the climate crisis through data, those suffering its impacts “can simply look out the window” and see them firsthand. Guterres notes that the Climate Action Summit aimed to “serve as a springboard” to ensure that countries are on track ahead of the 2020 deadline to increase ambition established by the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Guterres highlights that at the Summit:

  • more than 70 countries and 100 cities committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050;
  • at least 70 countries announced their intention to ramp up ambition in the next round of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in 2020;
  • small island developing States (SIDS) together committed to achieve carbon neutrality and 100% renewable energy by 2030;
  • many countries, including Pakistan, Guatemala, Colombia, Nigeria, New Zealand and Barbados, vowed to plant more than 11 billion trees;
  • more than 100 private sector leaders committed to accelerating the transition to a green economy;
  • the International Development Finance Club pledged to mobilize USD 1 trillion in clean energy funding by 2025 in 20 least developed countries (LDCs);
  • one-third of the global banking sector committed to align their businesses with the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the SDGs; and
  • a group of asset owners, responsible for directing more than USD 2 trillion, pledged to move to carbon-neutral investment portfolios by 2050.

The Secretary-General notes that the Summit also showcased: ways in which cities and global industries like shipping can achieve emission reductions; and initiatives to protect forests and water supplies.

While lauding all these commitments and the fact that young people, the UN and a growing number of leaders are mobilizing, Guterres says more still needs to be done. He calls for: “heeding the call of science”; reducing emissions by 45% by 2030; achieving carbon neutrality by 2050; and limiting global average temperature rise to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels by the end of the century. He says without increased ambition, the end of this century could see a temperature rise of 3°C.

The Secretary-General also urges: countries to “kick their addiction” to coal and pursue cheaper, greener options, which are already available; more progress on carbon pricing; ensuring no new coal plants by 2020; and ending fossil fuel subsidies. He calls on developed countries to fulfill their commitment to provide USD 100 billion a year by 2020 to developing countries.

Finally, Guterres highlights the Santiago Climate Change Conference in December in Chile as an opportunity to hold those who made commitments during the Climate Action Summit accountable.

The op-ed was published in more than 170 news outlets worldwide, following the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit on 23 September 2019. [UN News Story] [Op-Ed by the UN Secretary-General in the Guardian]

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