Planet Hurtling towards Hell of Global Heating, Secretary-General Warns Austrian World Summit, Urging Immediate Emissions Cuts, Fair Climate Funding
Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the seventh Austrian World Summit, in Vienna today:
I thank the Austrian Government and Arnold Schwarzenegger for this opportunity. The climate crisis can feel overwhelming. Disasters and dangers are already mounting, with the poor and marginalized suffering the most, as we hurtle towards the hell of 2.8°C of global heating by the end of the century.
But, amidst all this, I urge you to remember one vital fact: limiting the rise in global temperature to 1.5°C remains possible. That is the clear message from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But, it requires a quantum leap in climate action around the world.
To achieve this, I have proposed an Acceleration Agenda. This urges all Governments to hit fast-forward on their net-zero deadlines, in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in the light of national circumstances. It asks leaders of developed countries to commit to reaching net zero as close as possible to 2040 — as Austria has done. And leaders in emerging economies to do so as close as possible to 2050.
The Acceleration Agenda also urges all countries to step up their climate action, now. The road map is clear: phasing out of coal by 2030 in OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries and 2040 in all others; net-zero electricity generation by 2035 in developed countries, and 2040 elsewhere; no more licensing or funding of new fossil-fuel projects; no more subsidizing fossil fuels; and no more fake offsets, which do nothing to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, but which are still being used to justify fossil-fuel expansion today.
We can only reach net zero if we make real and immediate emissions cuts. If we embrace transparency and accountability. Relying on carbon credits, shadow markets, or murky accounting means one thing: failure. That is why I have asked CEOs to present clear net-zero transition plans, in line with the credibility standard presented by my high-level expert group on net-zero pledges.
And the Acceleration Agenda urges business and Governments to work together to decarbonize vital sectors — from shipping, aviation and steel, to cement, aluminium and agriculture. This should include interim targets for each sector to pave the way to net zero by 2050.
The Acceleration Agenda also calls for climate justice, including overhauling the priorities and business models of multilateral development banks, so that trillions of dollars in private finance flow to the green economy.
Developed countries must also make good on their financial commitments to developing countries. And they must operationalize the loss and damage fund, and replenish the Green Climate Fund. I commend Austria for increasing its pledge to the Green Climate Fund by 23 per cent and urge others to deliver their fair share.
On climate, we have all the tools we need to get the job done. But, if we waste time, we will be out of time. Let’s accelerate action, now. Thank you.