10 November 2021

Failure of Just, Equitable, Inclusive Transition to Net Zero Will Mean Catastrophe, Secretary-General Tells Caring for Climate Meeting

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the Caring for Climate high-level meeting, held today:

I thank the United Nations Global Compact, UNFCCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) for again convening this high-level meeting.

Two years ago, 28 companies committed to net zero through the Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign.  Today, this campaign has grown into a movement.  Companies everywhere are recognizing that sustainable business is good business; that decarbonizing operations and supply chains is not just the right thing, but the smart thing to do.  Consumers expect it.  Employees demand it.  And our future depends on it.

But, let’s be clear; we are not moving far enough, fast enough.  Temperatures are still on course to rise well above 2°C.  That is a disaster.  We need more ambition and more action.  Every country, city and company must decarbonize by 2050 or earlier — with verifiable and aligned 2030 targets, credible and clear measures, and maximum urgency.

The Science-Based Targets initiative’s new Net-Zero Standard is a welcome tool for companies to ensure consistency.  However, there is a deficit of credibility and a surplus of confusion over emissions reductions and net-zero targets, with different meanings and different metrics.  That is why I will establish a group of experts to propose clear standards to measure and analyse net-zero commitments from non-State actors.

Building resilience and investing in adaptation must be a priority for all.  Climate risk must be systematically integrated into all decision-making processes and financial flows.  Fossil-fuel subsidies — especially coal finance at home and abroad — must end once and for all.  Private sector finance must be aligned with a credible net-zero, resilient and sustainable development pathway.  And we must ensure that our transition to net zero is just, equitable and inclusive.  We must expand social protection, guarantee that communities and youth have a voice and support re-skilling to allow for workers to transition to other jobs.

I count on your leadership and urge you to use your influence for good.  Success means billions of lives saved, millions of new green jobs and trillions of dollars in economic gains.  Failure means catastrophe.  Together, let us safeguard our future and save humanity.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.