Activities Secretary-General in United Arab Emirates, 29 November–4 December

The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, flew from New York to Dubai on Wednesday, 29 November.  He arrived on Thursday evening.

Upon arrival, he was briefed by his Special Adviser on Climate Action, Selwin Hart, and the Executive Director of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Simon Stiell.

He later worked with his delegation on his speech for the opening ceremony of the Climate Change Conference, COP28 [Twenty-eighth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change].

On Friday morning, the Secretary-General went to the COP28 at the Dubai Expo City venue where he and the President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, welcomed the Heads of State and Government attending the Conference.

The leaders then took a family photo before the Secretary-General delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the World Climate Action Summit.

In his remarks, the Secretary-General told world leaders they can still prevent a planetary crash and burn but that we need cooperation and political will.

He said that success of COP28 depends on 3 areas:  drastically cutting emissions, accelerating a just, equitable transition to renewables and delivering climate justice for developing countries.

The Secretary-General underscored that we must listen to the science which says that the 1.5°C limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels.  Not reduce.  Not abate.  But phase out all fossil fuels with a clear timeframe aligned with 1.5°C.

The Secretary-General also had a message for fossil fuel company leaders:  Do not double-down on an obsolete business model; lead the transition to renewables.  And he urged Governments to help the fossil fuel industry make the right choice — by regulating, legislating, putting a fair price on carbon, ending fossil fuel subsidies, and adopting a windfall tax on profits.  (See Press Release SG/SM/22060.)

After the opening ceremony, the Secretary-General had a series of bilateral meetings with leaders which included:  Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India; Ding Xuexiang, First Vice Premier of China; Inacio Lula Da Silva, President of Brazil; Miguel Diaz Canel, President of Cuba; and Sultan Al-Jaber, COP28 President.

The Secretary-General then spoke at the Local Climate Action Summit where he urged local leaders to develop plans for a net-zero future, demand a seat at the table to draft climate national policies and invest in renewables.  (See Press Release SG/SM/22061.)

He then had a bilateral meeting with the President of Austria, Alexander Von Der Bellen.  This was followed by a recorded conversation with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Goodwill Ambassador and Sustainable Development Goal Advocate Dia Mirza, which was published on the UN’s social media channels the next day.

On the morning of Saturday, 2 December, the Secretary-General spoke at the Opening of the event entitled “Call of the Mountains:  who saves us from the climate crisis?” organized by the Prime Minister of Nepal.  Mr. Guterres said that Nepal’s mountains are crying out for help and that COP28 must respond, adding that the Global Stocktake must look forward and create the conditions for a surge in global climate action in 2025 and beyond.  (See Press Release SG/SM/22065.)

After that he spoke at the high-level meeting of the landlocked developing countries and told landlocked developing countries that they have a moral authority to tell big emitters, namely the Group of Twenty (G20) countries that represent 80 per cent of the emissions, that it’s time to seriously reduce emissions in order for them to have a chance not to be so dramatically impacted by the acceleration of the climate chaos consequences.  We need to work together with a new level of international cooperation — Governments, countries, and companies — to support the global transition to net zero by 2050, he said.  See (Press Release SG/SM/22066).

The Secretary-General then met with Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa.

Later that day, he spoke at the opening of the Group of 77 and China Summit where he announced the establishment of the Panel on Critical Energy Transition Minerals.  The Panel will bring together Governments, international organizations, industry and civil society to develop common and voluntary principles to guide extractive industries in the years ahead in the name of justice and sustainability.  (See Press Release SG/SM/22067.)

This was followed by a meeting with President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, and then a meeting with President Abdullatif Jamal Rashid of Iraq.

In the afternoon he met with his Youth Advisory Group.  This was followed by a meeting with the African group.  He then had a pull aside with Hakainde Hichilema, President of the Republic of Zambia.

That evening, the Secretary-General spoke at the opening of the Global Climate Action High-level Event:  Towards a Turning Point for Climate Action.

He then met with John Neal, CEO of Lloyds.

On the morning of Sunday, 3 December, the Secretary-General had a bilateral meeting with Sir Keir Starmer, United Kingdom Labour Leader.

He then spoke at the opening of Delivering Early Warnings for All, where he stressed that we must both cut carbon pollution at an accelerated pace and massively invest in protecting vulnerable people and communities from the impact of more frequent and severe climate-related events.  (See Press Release SG/SM/22069.)

He then met with Xie Zhenhua, Minister for Climate of the People’s Republic of China, before meeting with various regional groups.  First the Alliance of Small Island States, then the Group of Least Developed Countries and finally the Independent Alliance of Latin America and the Caribbean.

In the afternoon, he spoke at an event on the follow up of the High-level Expert Group recommendations on net zero commitments where he said that while the fossil fuel industry is finally waking up to the climate crisis, the recent announcements at COP28 fall short of what is clearly needed and provided no clarity on the pathway to reaching net zero by 2050, which is absolutely essential to ensure integrity — and integrity matters.  There must be no room for greenwashing, he said.  (See Press Release SG/SM/22070.)

This was followed by a roundtable with young climate leaders who handed him a Youth Global Statement.  He encouraged them to continue speaking up and putting pressure on leaders to act.

In the evening, the Secretary-General met with Jim Skea, IPCC Chair, and a group of scientists.

The Secretary-General left for New York on Monday morning, 4 December.

For information media. Not an official record.