Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the event marking the United States rejoining the Paris Agreement, in New York and online today:
Let me begin by thanking the UN Foundation and the United Nations Association of the United States. You are a force multiplier: educating, advocating and mobilizing for global cooperation, and advancing shared values to take on our many challenges. Day after day, you work for change and inspire hope.
Today is a day of hope, as the United States officially rejoins the Paris Agreement. This is good news for the United States — and for the world. It is a pleasure to mark this occasion with you all, and particularly with Special Envoy John Kerry, whose own work is reflected in this historic agreement.
For the past four years, the absence of a key player created a gap in the Paris Agreement; a missing link that weakened the whole. So today, as we mark the United States re-entry into this treaty, we also recognize its restoration, in its entirety, as its creators intended. Welcome back.
The Paris Agreement is an historic achievement. But the commitments made so far are not enough. And even those commitments made in Paris are not being met.
The warning signs are everywhere. The six years since 2015 have been the six hottest years on record. Carbon dioxide levels are at record highs. Fires, floods and other extreme weather events are getting worse, in every region. If we don’t change course, we could face a catastrophic temperature rise of more than 3°C this century.
This year, 2021, is pivotal. COP26 [twenty-sixth session of the Conference of the Parties to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)] in Glasgow will be a make it or break it occasion. Governments will take decisions that will determine the future of people and planet.
The United States, together with all members of the Group of 20 (G20), has a decisive role in delivering our three main objectives. First, the long-term vision. A central objective for the United Nations this year is to create a truly global coalition for net‑zero emissions by 2050. In the past year, countries representing 70 per cent of the world economy and 65 per cent of global carbon‑dioxide emissions committed to net zero.
I hope that the United [States] will formally join this coalition very soon, as pledged by President Biden, and will present its concrete plan to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
Second, delivering a decade of transformation. The science is clear: we need exponential progress on reducing emissions now. We expect all Governments to present more ambitious concrete and credible nationally determined contributions for the next 10 years, by COP26 in November. I commend all the American states, cities, businesses and financial institutions that have shown impressive leadership since 2015 by committing to the goals of the Paris Agreement through the “We Are Still In” declaration.
We rely on the United States to build on this with an ambitious and credible nationally determined contribution for 2030, aligned with President [Joseph R.] Biden’s commitment to achieve net‑zero emissions before 2050.
Third, the actions we need now. The recovery from the pandemic is an opportunity to rebuild stronger and better. To do that, we must invest in a green economy that will help to heal the planet and its people, and create well-paying, stable jobs to ensure more equitable and sustainable prosperity.
Now is the time to implement transformative change: phase out coal. Support a just transition, with training and opportunities for people whose jobs will be impacted. Stop investing in fossil fuel projects that ruin people’s health, destroy biodiversity and contribute to the climate catastrophe. Shift the tax burden from income to carbon; from consumers to polluters.
We also need to close the finance gap by supporting countries that are suffering the ravaging impacts of the climate crisis. That support must reach the countries and people who are most impacted. Women and girls bear the brunt of the climate crisis; fully 80 per cent of those displaced by climate change are women.
I urge all G7 countries to deliver concrete results on finance at their summit in June. Those that have not done so already must commit to doubling their climate finance. All developed countries must honour the pledge to contribute $100 billion annually to developing countries. I am also asking all donors to commit to increasing the share of climate finance allocated to adaptation, to reach 50 per cent. And I ask all financial institutions and banks to align their investments with the Paris Agreement by 2024.
I count on the United States, together with all other G20 members, to rally behind these three main objectives and to engage in the international negotiations that will be needed for success at COP26.
When Special Envoy John Kerry signed the Paris Agreement in 2016, he brought his granddaughter to the United Nations with him. We cannot be together today, but we can all reflect on our responsibilities to future generations. The Paris Agreement is our pact with our descendants and the whole human family.
This is the race of our lifetimes. We must go much faster, and much farther. It is within our power to build a future of renewable energy and green infrastructure that protects people and planet and ensures prosperity for all. Let’s get to work.