1 April 2020

Secretary-General Supports Delay of Climate Change Conference amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Spotlighting Vulnerability to Existential Threats

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

The Secretary-General supports the decision of the United Kingdom and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Bureau to delay the next Conference of Parties (COP26), which was due to be held in November in Glasgow.  As hundreds of thousands of people fall seriously ill and many die from COVID-19, the need to suppress the virus and safeguard lives is our foremost priority.

The Secretary-General said we must continue in our efforts to increase ambition and action on climate change, especially as countries take measures to recover from this crisis.  The science on climate has not changed, emissions are now at a record high and impacts are multiplying and will compound the socioeconomic challenges that this crisis will intensify.

The COVID-19 crisis reinforces the importance of science and evidence informing Government policies and decision-making.  The science makes clear that human behaviour is altering the Earth system regulatory ability, having impact on lives and livelihoods, from our health to our global economy.  This dramatic human crisis is also an example of how vulnerable countries, societies and economies are to existential threats.

Countries must work to protect the health of people and the planet has never been more at risk.  Solidarity and greater ambition are needed now more than ever to transition to a sustainable, resilient low-carbon economy that limits global warming to 1.5°C.

The Secretary-General will continue to work tirelessly with Prime Minister Boris Johnson [of the United Kingdom], Member States, civil society, youth and businesses to ensure that we recover better and emerge from this global crisis stronger.

For information media. Not an official record.