Urging Leaders to Tear Out ‘Poisoned Root of Climate Crisis — Fossil Fuels’, Secretary-General Warns Environment Report Shows Dangerous Emissions Gap

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Gap Report Launch Stakeout, in New York today:

Once again, a very good morning.  I thank Inger and all her colleagues at the UN Environment Programme.

Today’s Emissions Gap report shows that if nothing changes, in 2030, emissions will be 22 gigatons higher than the 1.5°C limit will allow.  That’s roughly the total present annual emissions of the United States, China and the European Union combined.

It shows greenhouse emissions reaching all-time highs — a 1.2 per cent increase on last year — when those levels should be shooting down.  And those emissions are shattering temperature records.  June, July, August, September and October were all the hottest on record.  Present trends are racing our planet down a dead-end 3°C temperature rise.

In short, the report shows that the emissions gap is more like an emissions canyon.  A canyon littered with broken promises, broken lives, and broken records.  All of this is a failure of leadership, a betrayal of the vulnerable, and a massive missed opportunity.

Renewables have never been cheaper or more accessible.  We know it is still possible to make the 1.5°C limit a reality.  And we know how to get there — we have roadmaps from the International Energy Agency and the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change].  It requires tearing out the poisoned root of the climate crisis:  fossil fuels.  And it demands a just, equitable renewables transition.

Leaders must drastically up their game, now, with record ambition, record action, and record emissions reductions.  The next round of national climate plans will be pivotal.  These plans must be backed with the finance, technology, support and partnerships to make them possible.

The task of leaders at COP28 [twenty-eighth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] is to make sure that happens.  This COP will respond to the Global Stocktake — an inventory of country’s climate plans which will show just how far the world is from meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement [on climate change].

That response is vital.  Voluntary initiatives and non-binding commitments can play an important role.  But they are no substitute for a global response agreed by all.  The response to the Global Stocktake must light the fuse to an explosion of ambition in 2025.

For information media. Not an official record.