Close Emissions Gap ‘before Climate Catastrophe Closes in on Us All’, Secretary-General Says on Release of Environment Programme Report

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks on the release of the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Emissions Gap Report, in Nairobi today:

Droughts, floods, storms and wildfires are devastating lives and livelihoods across the globe.  Loss and damage from the climate emergency is getting worse by the day.  And global and national climate commitments are falling pitifully short.

The window to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C is closing fast.  Greenhouse gas emissions must be cut by 45 per cent this decade.  But as today’s Emissions Gap Report confirms, they remain at dangerous and record highs and still rising.

Under current policies, the world is headed for 2.8°C of global heating by the end of the century.  In other words, we are headed for a global catastrophe.

The emissions gap is a by-product of a commitments gap.  A promises gap.  An action gap.  That gap must be filled — starting with the twenty-seventh Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Egypt.

G20 countries spew 80 per cent of global emissions.  Developed countries must lead in boosting their national climate plans.

I recognize the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in the light of national circumstances.  But emerging economies must also do more if we are to have a fighting chance of keeping 1.5 alive.  They need financial and technical support to do so.

Just Transition Energy Partnerships are poised to help heavily coal-dependent emerging economies speed their shift to renewables.  These partnerships are moving ahead in India, Indonesia, South Africa and Viet Nam.  These coalitions of support must be expanded to even more countries.

The recommendations in today’s report are clear.  End our reliance on fossil fuels.  Avoid a lock-in of new fossil fuel infrastructure.  Invest massively in renewables.

Renewables are a win-win-win solution for climate action, guaranteeing energy security, providing affordable access to electricity and generating new jobs.

To accelerate the deployment of renewables, it is high time for a historic pact between G20 developed and emerging economies to turbocharge the just energy transition.  This pact would require developed countries to help emerging economies access low-cost finance, technologies, critical minerals and other raw materials.

At the same time, multilateral development banks — especially the World Bank Group — must commit to greater climate action.  They must overhaul their entire business model and approach to risk to leverage massive private finance at reasonable cost.  This is essential to helping developing countries reduce emissions and build climate resilience at scale.

Private sector investors and other financial institutions must also step up with concrete actions.  Commitments to net zero are worth zero without the plans, policies and actions to back it up.  Our world cannot afford any more greenwashing, fake movers or late movers.

At COP27, I look forward to receiving the recommendations of my Expert Group on net zero commitments of businesses, investors, cities and regions.

As today’s report makes clear, we are headed for economy-destroying levels of global heating.  We need climate action on all fronts — and we need it now.  We must close the emissions gap before climate catastrophe closes in on us all.

For information media. Not an official record.