27 November 2020

Proactive Plan Must Address Record Climate Crises, Deputy Secretary-General Says, as World Returns to Pre-COVID-19 Carbon Emission Levels

(Delayed in Transmission)

Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s video message to the Finance in Common High-Level Event on Accelerating Investment in Climate Adaptation and Resilience, held on 12 November:

I am pleased to send greetings to this important event.  The last decade was the hottest on record.  Indeed, the last five years each set new record highs, each year surpassing the previous one.

While the early pandemic response caused a temporary drop in carbon pollution, emissions have since returned to pre-COVID levels and climate destruction has continued apace.

The world is way off track to meet the goal of the Paris Agreement to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C.  At just 1°C of warming today, we are witnessing unprecedented climate extremes on every continent.

Climate-related disasters nearly doubled over the last two decades, with the number of major floods more than doubling, and the incidence of major storms growing too.  Those who have contributed least to the problem — the poorest and most vulnerable — stand on the frontlines of the climate crisis and bear the impacts disproportionately.  We now face a paradoxical world in which populism and anti-migrant feeling is surging, but in which hundreds upon millions of climate migrants in the near future is a near-certainty.

Yet, investments in adaptation and resilience measures represent a mere 20 per cent of total international climate finance flows.  Your leadership is required on four important fronts to accelerate financing for adaptation and resilience:

First, financing for adaptation and resilience must be delivered at the scale demanded by science and the needs of the most vulnerable.

Second, climate risks and opportunities must be taken into account in all financial and policy decisions and at all levels.

Third, portfolios currently favour disaster relief, and this needs to change.  We must move from small-scale adaptation finance triggered by catastrophes to proactive, preventive and systematic adaptation support through substantial concessional finance at scale.  Public and private finance must also be aligned in this effort.

Finally, we must ensure that those in most need — small island States, least developed countries and African nations — are assured of simplified and timely access to available resources.

As highlighted by leaders gathered to discuss financing for development in the era of COVID-19 and beyond on September 29, the recovery from the crisis represents a unique opportunity to accelerate the shift towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient future.  This means aligning recovery plans with climate goals as expressed in nationally determined contributions, national adaptation plans and frameworks and strategies to get to net zero emissions by 2050; and investing in low-carbon growth and generating the jobs we need to transition to this new world, such as in infrastructure and energy efficiency.

Scaling up adaptation and resilience finance will require all financial flows to align with these imperatives — national budgets, national, regional and multilateral development banks, climate funds and private finance.  Implementing innovative financing models such as debt-for-climate and debt-for-adaptation swaps will also be key to these efforts.

Only then can we level the playing field to ensure investments towards the recovery are all climate-resilient.  And only then will we give everyone an equal chance to build back better, regardless of the storms — both figurative and literal — that will come.  We count on your support and leadership.  We have no time to waste.

Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.