1.5°C Global Temperature Rise Still Possible, But Not for Long, Secretary-General Warns Climate Promise 2025 Launch, Urging Clear, Ambitious Emission Reduction Targets

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Climate Promise 2025 Launch, held in the Economic and Social Council chamber in New York today:

It’s a pleasure to join you for the launch of The Climate Promise 2025.

This initiative recognizes an important truth in the climate battle:  It is not all doom and gloom.  Many countries have the will to take more ambitious steps on climate action.  But the world needs to mobilize to ensure that there is a way.

The Climate Promise is our contribution to that essential effort.  It is the entire UN system coming together: helping Governments [rise] to the moment, seize the opportunity, and create new national climate plans aligned with the 1.5°C limit.  The initiative has a proud record:  UNDP’s Climate Promise worked with 128 countries on the last round of national climate plans to increase quality and ambition.

Today we are launching The Climate Promise 2025 — an initiative that is even bigger and bolder — with more partners, more tailored support, and greater focus on linking sustainable development and climate action.

Done right, national climate plans double as national investment plans, and reinforce National Development Plans.  They can catapult sustainable development — connecting billions to clean power, boosting health, creating clean jobs, and advancing equality.

National climate plans — or NDCs — are the critical vehicle to get countries on that path.  But they are complex, technical documents.  And developing countries have consistently asked for support in making them as ambitious, inclusive, and comprehensive as possible.

The Climate Promise is the United Nations’ answer to that call coming from developing countries.  I encourage those countries to make the most of all this initiative has to offer.  And I ask donors to provide the initiative with the finance it needs for maximum impact.

The need is urgent.  This March was the hottest on record, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service — the tenth month of record heat in a row.  And the devastating impacts of climate chaos keep piling up.

This month alone, the United Arab Emirates reeled after record-breaking rainstorms hit it; Scientists sounded the alarm on a great global coral bleaching — a result of soaring ocean temperatures; and Zimbabwe followed Zambia and Malawi in declaring a state of disaster, as drought decimates crops and dries-up water supplies across Southern Africa.

But what we are seeing is just a preview of the disaster that awaits us unless we limit the long-term rise in global temperature to 1.5°C.

It’s make or break for the 1.5°C limit.  Today, humanity spews out over 40 gigatons of carbon dioxide every year.  At this rate, the planet will soon be pushed past the 1.5°C limit.  Countries’ ambitious new national climate plans — which are due next year — are essential to avert this calamity. 

Together, these plans must achieve what the science tells us is necessary:  And reduce global greenhouse emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 compared to 2019.  These requests, tackling the two key causes [that have been] creating climate chaos:  fossil fuels and deforestation. 

By the end of this decade, globally, we must have slammed the brakes on deforestation, and tripled renewables capacity.  And we must have drastically accelerated a just and equitable phase out of fossil fuels.

The International Energy Agency projects that the proportion of electricity generated by fossil fuels globally must fall to 30 per cent by 2030 — from 60 per cent today.  Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries must phase-out coal by 2030, and the rest of the world by 2040.

The United Arab Emirates Consensus agreed at COP28 [Twenty-eighth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] made clear that new national climate plans must align with the 1.5°C limit, as informed by the science, and in the light of the different national circumstances.  And they must cover all greenhouse gases, all sectors, and the whole economy.

There is no place for loopholes or for green washing or for any half-measures that will not allow us to reach our targets.  That means clear, ambitious absolute emissions reduction targets for 2030 and 2035 — covering all major emitting sectors:  energy, agriculture, land-use, industry and waste.

These targets must be supported by credible plans, concrete policies, and details in financing needs, to clean-up major emitting sectors – particularly energy.

And we need details of adaptation priorities and investment needs – to show how communities, livelihoods, critical sectors, and infrastructures will be protected from extreme weather, rising sea levels and other climate impacts.  All countries must play their part.

But the Group of 20 — which accounts for around 80 per cent of emissions — must lead:  Submitting robust, ambitious and comprehensive new national climate plans well ahead of COP30; committing to dramatically accelerate fossil fuel phase-out and I repeat phase-out; Detailing policies and regulations to provide continuity and predictability to markets — from carbon pricing to ending fossil fuel subsidies; and increasing financial and technology support for developing countries.

Many developing countries are suffocating in debt, gripped by a cost-of living-crisis, and paying outlandish rates for capital.  That makes it virtually impossible for them to take sufficient climate action.  We need concrete steps this year to get financial flows and enable a surge in climate ambition.  Developed countries must deliver on their finance commitments — including on adaptation.

We need significant contributions to the new Loss and Damage Fund, action on debt, and a strong finance outcome from COP29.  We need to explore new sources of finance — such as a windfall tax on the profits of fossil fuel companies.  And we need innovative financial instruments, as well as adequate capitalization and reform of the business model of multilateral development banks — to increase their lending potential and to mobilize far more private finance.

The 1.5°C limit is still possible.  But not for long.  The United Nations is rallying to support you.  Please, seize this opportunity.  And together, let’s make the next round of climate action plans count.

Thank you very much.

For information media. Not an official record.