Multilateralism Remains ‘Humanity’s Best Hope’ in Fight against Climate Crisis, Says Secretary-General, as Dubai Conference Closes

The following statement by UN Secretary-General António Guterres was issued today:

I thank the Government of the United Arab Emirates for their hospitality — and twenty-eighth UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) President Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber and his team for their hard work.

I am also grateful to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Simon Stiell and his colleagues for their tremendous support.

I also salute all those who have pushed for the strongest possible result, including civil society and young people all over the world.

COP28 occurred at a decisive moment in the fight against the climate crisis — a moment that demands maximum ambition both in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and climate justice.  The issues of the energy transition and the future of fossil fuels were front and centre.

The Global Stocktake clearly reaffirmed the imperative of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C which requires drastic reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions in this decade.

In addition, for the first time, the outcome recognizes the need to transition away from fossil fuels — after many years in which the discussion of this issue was blocked.

Science tells us that limiting global heating to 1.5°C will be impossible without the phase out of all fossil fuels on a timeframe consistent with this limit.  This has been recognized by a growing and diverse coalition of countries.

To those who opposed a clear reference to a phase out of fossil fuels in the COP28 text, I want to say that a fossil fuel phase out is inevitable whether they like it or not.  Let’s hope it doesn’t come too late.

Of course, timelines, pathways and targets will differ for countries at different levels of development.  But all efforts must be consistent with achieving global net zero by 2050 and preserving the 1.5°C goal.  And developing countries must be supported every step of the way.

The era of fossil fuels must end — and it must end with justice and equity.

Simultaneously, COP28 agreed to commitments to triple renewables capacity and double energy efficiency by 2030.

There was also progress in relation to adaptation and finance.

COP28 offered some other building blocks for progress — including the operationalization of the loss and damage fund, even though financial commitments are very limited.  Pledges to the Green Climate Fund now total a record $12.8 billion for the most climate vulnerable communities.

The new framework on adaptation action provides a measurable set of new targets to drive adaptation action and implementation.  And there is clear guidance on the next round of 2025 national climate action plans — or nationally determined contributions — which all Governments must now begin preparing.

I am mobilizing the entire UN system to assist in those efforts.

Over the next two years, Governments are required to prepare new economy-wide national climate action plans.  These plans must be aligned with the 1.5°C temperature goal and cover all greenhouse gases.

They must also be underpinned with credible climate policies and regulations, including a price on carbon and ending finance for fossil fuel. And both the preparation and implementation of these plans must be fully funded and supported.

But much more is needed to keep the hope of the 1.5°C limit alive and deliver climate justice to those on the front lines of the crisis.

Many vulnerable countries are drowning in debt and at risk of drowning in rising seas.  It is time for a surge in finance, including for adaptation, loss and damage and reform of the international financial architecture.

We need increased capital and reform of the business model of multilateral development banks to massively increase direct support — and to leverage far more private finance at reasonable costs for climate action in developing countries.

I am working with the Government of Brazil in its capacity as G20 President to help advance these critical reforms.  This will also be a major focus of next September’s Summit of the Future.

The world cannot afford delays, indecision or half-measures.

I remain confident that despite many differences, the world can unite and rise to the challenge of the climate crisis.

Multilateralism remains humanity’s best hope.

It is essential to come together around real, practical and meaningful climate solutions that match the scale of the climate crisis.

For information media. Not an official record.