17 March 2021

Current Commitments ‘Nowhere Close’ to What Meeting Climate Targets Requires, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Coalition for Urban Transitions

Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s video message to the Coalition for Urban Transitions on “Seizing the Urban Opportunity”, held today:

Excellencies, friends, ladies and gentlemen,

The climate emergency is a defining issue of our time.  The past decade was the hottest in human history.  Carbon‑dioxide levels are at record highs, and extreme wildfires, cyclones, floods and droughts are the new normal.

The science is clear:  we need to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C by the end of the century.  To do this, we need to cut global emissions by 45 per cent by 2030, compared to 2010 levels, and reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

Unfortunately, current commitments are nowhere close to what is needed to achieve these targets.  We need concrete, ambitious action now, from all stakeholders, including a breakthrough on adaptation and resilience.

This report, “Seizing the Urban Opportunity”, shows how national Governments can work with urban leaders to unlock the enormous potential in cities and the urbanization process.  Greater national support for urban action is essential to cut carbon pollution in key sectors including energy, transport, construction and land use.  Cities have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic.

The report shows that bold climate action and recovering better from COVID‑19 can be mutually reinforcing, by reducing vulnerabilities, increasing access to services, driving job creation and growth, and creating a liveable environment for all.

To the Coalition for Urban Transitions and all your partners, thank you for this very important work.  To city leaders, I urge you to be even more ambitious, and to join the Race to Zero and Race to Resilience campaigns.  As the Secretary‑General has said, we urgently need much greater ambition in national climate plans — NDCs — before November’s UN Climate Conference, COP26.

To all countries, especially those undergoing rapid urbanization, this report can serve as a valuable resource in your efforts ahead.  Carbon-neutral, climate-resilient, inclusive cities will be essential if we are to overcome the climate crisis and meet all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, for people, prosperity and planet.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.