In Briefing on Climate Ambition Summit, Deputy Secretary-General Stresses Still Possible to Limit Rise in Global Temperature if We Take Action

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks at the Member States briefing on the Climate Ambition Summit, in New York today:

It is a pleasure to be here to brief you on the Secretary-General’s Climate Ambition Summit, which comes at a sobering moment — a moment when almost all our indicators on climate are pointing in the wrong direction.  Emissions are hitting record highs; finance commitments remain unmet; and the World Meteorological Organization has warned that the next five years are likely be the hottest on record. 

Of course, this will hit vulnerable communities the hardest.  The communities are suffering the most today from drought, fires and floods displacing people.  And even New York is witnessing the impact of wildfires in Canada.  Canada's Changing Climate Report had highlighted that heatwaves, extreme hot temperatures and wildfire risks will increase in Canada as a result of human-caused climate change. 

This spring has been warmer and drier than average in Canada, with exceptional fire weather conditions in Quebec over the last week.   This is all happening at just 1.2°C of warming above pre-industrial levels.   

Against this grim backdrop, there is hope.   Firstly, that there are some indicators of progress.  The International Energy Agency reports that investment in solar is set to overtake investment in oil production for the first time — a milestone to be celebrated. 

Secondly, that it is still possible to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5°C and avoid the very worst of climate change.  But only, in the Secretary-General’s words, if we take a quantum leap in climate action. 

That is the clear message of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate ChangeSynthesis Report, published in March.  In response to that report, the Secretary-General has called for an Acceleration Agenda.  This calls on countries, especially the Group of 20, to cooperate to accelerate climate action. 

It asks them to take clearly defined, concrete actions, to reach net zero faster as close as possible to 2040 for developed countries and as close as possible to 2050 for emerging countries. And it calls for faster delivery of climate justice: developed countries working together to make sure developing and vulnerable countries can access the finance and technologies they need to take action on climate. 

This is the context for the Climate Ambition Summit, which we will convene on 20 September, during the High-Level week of the United Nations General Assembly.  The Summit is an opportunity for “First Movers and Doers” — from Government, business, finance, local authorities and civil society — to tell us how they are responding to the Secretary-General’s call to “accelerate” climate action.

It seeks to focus our attention on the unprecedented levels of acceleration and cooperation needed to keep 1.5°C alive.  And it aims to showcase how cooperation across borders and across society can accelerate decarbonization in high emitting sectors and build climate resilient societies.

The Summit is designed around three distinct but interrelated tracks:  ambition, credibility and implementation.  And it aims to show progress in each. 

The ambition track is aimed at Governments, especially major emitters.  We ask them to respond to the Secretary-General's Acceleration Agenda by announcing concrete actions and proposals: raising the ambition of their current Nationally determined contribution, for instance; accelerating their net zero targets; presenting credible energy transition plans that will commit to no new coal and phase out of coal by 2030 in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, and 2040 in all other countries; establishing a global phase down of existing oil and gas production, compatible with the 2050 global net-zero target; setting more ambitious renewables targets; and delivering on finance — making pledges to the Green Climate Fund and commitments towards delivering the $100 billion in climate finance promised to developing countries.

The credibility track is mostly aimed at leaders of businesses, cities, regions and financial institutions.  The Secretary-General has asked them to present transition plans that are fully aligned with the United Nations credibility standard.  

This was presented last November by the Secretary-General’s High-Level Expert Group on the Net-Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities.  Some choose to attack leaders that have the courage to completely rethink their business models.  The United Nations is proudly showcasing their efforts.

Finally, the implementation track:  this will showcase partnerships — both existing and emerging — that either accelerate decarbonization in high-emitting sectors such as energy or shipping or deliver progress on climate justice in areas such as early warning systems and adaptation financing. 

Leaders of Governments, international and regional organizations, financial institutions, the private sector, and civil society are invited to present implementation coalitions.  These must show clearly their division of responsibilities and planned way forward.  The Special Advisor to the Secretary-General, Selwin Hart, will expand on these three tracks in more detail.

We hope and expect that your leaders, the private sector, and civil society organizations, will come to the Summit with credible and ambitious actions and commitments.  If they do, the Summit can help to rebuild trust between developing and developed countries; it can drive the acceleration on climate action that the world so desperately needs; and it can shape our understanding of the climate action needed over the next five years, as we conclude the Global Stock Take at COP28 [2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference].

Coming just after the Sustainable Development Goals Summit, the Climate Ambition Summit also reminds us that action on climate is key to delivering the Sustainable Development Goals.  At this vital time, we look forward to working with all Governments and stakeholders in ensuring that the Climate Ambition Summit delivers for people and planet.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.