Develop Comprehensive Net-Zero Transition Plans, Demand Seat at Policymaking Table of National Governments, Secretary-General Urges at Local Climate Action Summit

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks at the Local Climate Action Summit, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, today:

We meet on the brink of climate chaos.  Emissions are still rocketing, climate impacts are still widening, and we are about to conclude the hottest year on record.  Year by year, the world’s commitment to limit global warming to 1.5°C is slipping away.  And we are speeding towards a 3°C temperature rise, and showing yet no signs of slowing down.

At the same time, developing countries are left without the support they need to adapt to the carnage around them and make the leap to a renewable future.  Now at COP28 [twenty-eighth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] the world must hit the brakes.  And this must be a game changing COP, thinking big, as the President just said.

Now, keeping 1.5°C within reach means breaking our addiction to fossil fuels, making a fair, just and equitable shift to renewables, and delivering climate justice.  But our success will not be measured in conference rooms like this one.  It will be measured in towns, cities, regions and States everywhere.  The very places that you — as local leaders — serve.

Local leaders are often going further and faster than their national Governments to tackle the climate crisis.  Around the world, leaders like you are reducing fossil fuels, creating green jobs, cleaning up polluted air and investing in sustainable infrastructure and public transportation systems.  And every step you take is making a difference and I applaud your leadership.  But, I must also ask you to do more.

First — if you haven’t already, start planning now for a just transition to a net-zero future.  Last year in Sharm-el-Sheikh, my High-Level Expert Group on Net Zero provided the blueprint for credible, climate action that aligns with the 1.5°C limit.

And I call on local leaders to develop comprehensive and detailed transition plans in line with the Group’s recommendations.  Recommendations against greenwashing or delays that do not make sense in the difficult times that we’re facing.  These plans must set measurable and verifiable targets to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions across the board.  And this includes all emissions for cities and regions, as well as all emissions originating from businesses’ supply chains and the investments of financial institutions.

Second — I call on local leaders to demand a seat at the table as national Governments develop climate policies and regulations.  And this is particularly important as countries prepare to present their next round of nationally determined contributions in 2025.

These contributions must be aligned with the 1.5°C limit and must cover all economic activity and greenhouse gas emissions.  And they must reflect the finance, technology, support and partnerships required to help your communities adapt and build resilience in the face of a changing climate.

The success or failure of these new national climate plans will be realized at the local level, and you must be involved every step of the way.  I am pleased to see that several members of my Advisory Group on Local and Regional Governments are here today and contributing to the discussion with concrete solutions.

And third — it’s time to throw your full political support behind the renewables revolution.  Fossil fuels represent the past.  Renewables represent the future.  I am fully aware of the political, financial and regulatory roadblocks standing in your way.

But the writing is on the wall.  The world needs to commit to a clear time frame to phase out fossil fuels aligned with 1.5°C.  The COP28 Global Stocktake must also result in commitments that will lead to tripling renewables, doubling energy efficiency, and bringing clean energy to all by 2030.

And as local leaders, you can lead the way by investing in public transportation infrastructure fuelled by renewables, and prioritizing clean air and jobs in the green economy.

Ending climate chaos — and the multiple injustices that fuel it — requires all hands on deck.  Your citizens are counting on your leadership. So am I.  Let’s stand as one — and work as one — to protect all communities from the climate crisis, and spur the renewable, sustainable and equitable future people and planet deserve.

For information media. Not an official record.