‘We Know the Truth’ about Climate Crisis, Secretary-General Tells Petersberg Dialogue, Urging States Accelerate Net-Zero Deadlines

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the 2023 Petersberg Climate Dialogue, in Berlin today:

Excellencies, the climate crisis demands honesty.  We can only solve problems if we name them and look them squarely in the eye.  The truth is, on climate, we know what to do, when to do it, and why.

But, for too long, we have looked the other way.

We know because the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tells us that breaching 1.5°C, even temporarily, could be disastrous.  Yet, temperatures are set to rise 2.8°C by the end of the century if we maintain the present policies.

We know that the 1.5°C limit requires halving global emissions by 2030.  Yet, they are on course to rise 10 per cent by then compared to 2010.

And we know that a 1.5°C pathway is possible.  Yet, we will only achieve it with a quantum leap in climate action globally.

We must be upfront about what this requires:  it requires cooperation — rising above geopolitical divisions; climate justice — developed countries and international financial institutions delivering on long-overdue finance; and cleaning up our economies — breaking our fossil-fuel addiction and driving decarbonization in every sector.

Excellencies, we must act on science, facts and truth.

I have proposed to the G20 a Climate Solidarity Pact — in which all big emitters make extra efforts to cut emissions, and wealthier countries support emerging economies to be able to do so.

And, last month, I presented a plan to super-charge efforts to achieve this through the Acceleration Agenda.

This proposes that all countries hit fast-forward on their net-zero deadlines.  It asks developed countries to commit to reaching net-zero as close as possible to 2040, the limit they should all aim to respect, and emerging economies to commit to reaching net-zero as close as possible to 2050 — again, the limit they should all aim to respect.

This is in line with the principle of common-but-differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances, as reaffirmed in Paris.

The Acceleration Agenda urges countries to pool their resources, scientific capacities and technologies.

It asks them to phase out coal by 2030 in OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries and 2040 in all others; to make electricity generation net-zero by 2035 in developed countries and 2040 in all others, while providing access to electricity for all; to stop permitting, funding, and expanding coal, oil and gas — both old and new; and to speed up the decarbonization of major sectors — from shipping, aviation, and steel, to cement, aluminium, and agriculture — working with the private sector.

The Acceleration Agenda also calls for an overhaul of the priorities and the business models of multilateral development banks, so the trillions of dollars in private finance — which have long been talked about — finally flow to the green economy.

It calls on developed countries to deliver the $100 billion this year, as pledged in Glasgow; to replenish the Green Climate Fund; and to deliver on their finance commitments on adaptation.

Despite the promise made in Glasgow to double adaptation finance by 2025, parity between adaptation and mitigation finance remains too far off.

Excellencies, I will welcome first-movers on the Acceleration Agenda to the Climate Ambition Summit I am hosting this September in New York — those with concrete actions and commitments.

And COP28 [2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference], two months later, will see the first global stocktake of the Paris Agreement [on climate change], showing us plainly where we stand in the fight for 1.5°C.

It will also launch the next cycle of national climate plans — or nationally determined contributions — which must reflect the acceleration we need.

By the end of COP28, I count on all G20 leaders to have committed to ambitious new nationally determined contributions, covering all greenhouse gases and the whole economy, and indicating absolute emissions cuts targets for 2035 and 2040.

And I urge all parties to ensure that COP28 delivers on loss-and-damage funding.  Remember one simple fact:  addressing loss and damage is about saving lives.

And do not allow the historic COP27 [2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference] agreement to be derailed.

Excellencies, on climate, we know the truth.  Please, act on it, now. 

Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.