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Pandemic Cannot Delay Climate Action, Secretary-General Tells Ministerial Event, Calling 2021 ‘Make-or-Break Year’ to Limit Temperature Rise

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video remarks for the 2021 Ministerial on Climate Action convened by China, the European Union and Canada, in New York and online today:

Excellencies, dear friends,

My thanks to China, Canada and the European Union for convening today’s meeting, and for inviting me to share with you the climate priorities of the United Nations as we look towards COP26 in Glasgow.

Our overriding priority is to keep the upper limit of temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, as set out in the Paris Agreement.  The decisions that you will take during this make-or-break year have the power to keep the limit of 1.5 degrees within reach.

We simply cannot contemplate any alternative.  We must continue to grow the coalition of countries that is committed to net-zero emissions by mid-century.  This is the path to limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.  This is the path to peace and prosperity on a healthy planet.

But we are way off target.  Nations representing 65 per cent of global emissions have committed to net zero.  This coalition must grow to cover well over 90 per cent of global emissions this year.

We need a breakthrough on mitigation.  All countries, companies, cities and financial institutions must commit to net zero, with clear and credible plans to achieve this, starting today.

We need credible, coherent plans to cut emissions by 45 per cent compared to 2010 levels, by 2030.  The nationally determined contributions do not even come close.  The latest scorecard was a red alert and a wake-up call.  I urge all countries to submit, or re-submit, ambitious nationally determined contributions as a matter of urgency.

Dear friends,

Second, we need a breakthrough in adaptation.  Those who did least to cause the climate crisis are being subjected to a relentless barrage of cyclones, wildfires and other extreme weather events.  I ask major development banks and donors to commit half your climate finance annually to adaptation — and to ensure those resources are accessible to the most vulnerable.

Third, we need a breakthrough in finance.  I ask the leaders of the G7 [Group of 7] and main donors to mobilize the annual $100 billion, promised more than a decade ago.  The share of grant finance needs to be at least doubled from current levels.  This is a question of credibility and justice.

We need all multilateral development banks to commit to full Paris alignment by 2024 at the latest.  This will require them to align policies, lending and portfolios with the 1.5-degree goal of the Paris Agreement.

Fourth, we need a breakthrough on ending coal.  Phasing out coal is the most important step to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.  We must end the financing of coal-fired power.  No new coal plants should be approved.  Coal must be phased out by 2030 in OECD countries, and by 2040 globally.

G7 members should take the lead by committing to this by their summit in June.  G20 [Group of 20] countries should do the same.  Together, we must support the communities that are affected through a just transition that provides decent jobs and a clean environment.  All G20 countries must put a price on carbon and shift subsidies from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Dear friends,

The pandemic cannot delay climate action.  We must move forward immediately with virtual negotiations.  A successful resolution at COP26, including on Articles 6 and 13 of the Paris Agreement concerning carbon markets and transparency, depends on this effort — led by Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa.  You have the full support of the United Nations to ensure all countries are included, and all voices heard.

Dear friends,

At today’s meeting, at the Earth Day Summit hosted by the United States next month and at each vital milestone during this vital year, I urge you:  be ambitious; be decisive; be clear.  We can do it.  And we are counting on you.

Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.