Following are UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ closing remarks at the 2019 Climate Action Summit, in New York today:
In planning this Summit, I had one overriding objective. This had to be a Summit of action plans, not platitudes. I thank you for delivering. You understand that climate emergency is the fight of our lives, and for our lives. I thank young people around the world for leading the charge and holding my generation accountable.
We have been losing the race against the climate crisis. But the world is waking up. Pressure is building. Momentum is growing. And, action by action, the tide is turning. Today, in this Hall, the world saw clear ambition and concrete initiatives.
Let me be specific about just a few. Seventy‑seven countries — many in the industrialized world — committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. They were joined by 10 regions and more than 100 cities, including several of the world’s largest. Seventy countries announced they will boost their national determined contributions by 2020.
Well over 100 leaders in the private sector committed to accelerating their move into the green economy. A group of the world’s largest asset owners — responsible for directing more than $2 trillion — committed to move to carbon‑neutral investment portfolios by 2050.
Multilateral and national development banks have increased their pledges. The International Development Finance Club announced that it will mobilize $1 trillion in clean energy funding by 2025 in 20 least developed countries. The Club will also promote carbon neutrality by reducing fossil fuels in portfolios and define exit strategies from coal financing.
One hundred and thirty banks — one third of the global banking sector — signed up to align their businesses with the Paris Agreement on climate change objectives and the Sustainable Development Goals.
All of this, in addition to the clear call by asset managers representing nearly half the world’s invested capital — some $34 trillion — who are demanding urgent climate action and calling on global leaders to put a meaningful price on carbon and phase out fossil fuel subsidies and thermal coal power worldwide.
I want to once again salute those countries that have already increased their climate finance support, especially those that have doubled their contributions to the Green Climate Fund.
Today, others went even beyond doubling their overall climate finance commitment. We absolutely must guarantee the implementation of the commitment by developed countries to mobilize $100 billion a year from private and public sources by 2020 for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries.
I call on all Governments to provide a stronger mandate for climate and Sustainable Development Goals to their national and regional public financial institutions in order for that to be achievable.
I was deeply moved by many examples of inspiring leadership from countries that have done the least to contribute to the climate crisis. Small island States together committed to carbon neutrality and to move to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
We saw new initiatives to unlock the power of nature, including by conserving 30 per cent of the Earth’s land and waters by 2030, and protecting the Central African Forest and the 60 million people who depend on it. More than 150 nature‑based solutions to cut carbon emissions were announced. I welcome many concrete new initiatives to make buildings and transport cleaner and greener.
More than 2,000 cities committed to putting climate risk at the centre of decision‑making, creating 1,000 bankable, climate‑smart urban projects. Many countries around the world — from Pakistan to Guatemala, Colombia to Nigeria, New Zealand to Barbados — made major commitments today to plant more than 11 billion trees.
We learned more about major advances in energy efficiency and cooling, and about a huge step up from leaders in key sectors like shipping and heavy industry who are charting a course for carbon neutrality by 2050, namely with the Getting to Zero Coalition of the maritime industry. The list goes on.
You have delivered a boost in momentum, cooperation and ambition. But we have a long way to go. We are not yet there. Much more is needed to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 and keep temperature rise to 1.5°C by the end of the century.
We need more concrete plans, more ambition from more countries and more businesses. We need all financial institutions, public and private, to choose, once and for all, the green economy. And we need to see much more progress on carbon pricing and ending coal and other fossil fuel subsidies in the months to come.
Here at this Summit, the Powering Past Coal Alliance expanded to include 30 countries, 22 States or regions, and 31 corporations. They are committed to stop building new coal power plants by 2020 and quickly move to renewable energy, phasing out coal for good.
But the large number of coal power plants still projected to be built are a looming threat to us all and can undermine our global efforts for carbon neutrality. I repeat my appeal: no new coal power plants should be built after 2020.
December’s United Nations climate conference in Santiago is our next critical milestone. I will be there. And I thank President [Sebastián] Piñera [Echeñique] for his determination in keeping up the momentum.
As the world moves, the United Nations itself is committed to walking the talk. We have instituted a new rule at United Nations Headquarters: no single‑use plastics. The United Nations Secretariat has committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent by 2025 and 45 per cent by 2030; and to source 40 per cent of our electricity from renewable energy [by] 2025, and 80 per cent [by] 2030.
And I am pleased to say that the United Nations Pension Fund, which manages $68 billion in assets and is autonomous in its management, announced today that it will divest from investments in publicly traded companies in the coal energy sector and will not make any new investments in it.
Going forward, I am asking the entire United Nations system to support more countries, businesses and organizations to join today’s initiatives and ramp up actions and ambition. We are united behind this cause and in this spirit I invite the Deputy Secretary‑General and heads of the United Nations family to join me on stage.
But in between, dear friends, I want to tell you clearly: we can win this race. You can count on me to be on the front lines, pushing and prodding for climate action every step of the way.