New York

22 September 2019

Deputy Secretary-General's opening remarks at the Mitigation Event During Climate Action Summit [as prepared for delivery]

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for being here to discuss the key challenge of mitigation.
The world remains far behind in the climate change fight and we are facing a climate crisis.
Impacts such as rising sea levels, increased drought and heat waves are threatening lives and livelihoods around the globe, with disastrous consequences for poverty eradication, human health, migration and inequality.
We are on track for 2015 to 2019 to be the five hottest years on record.
The level of CO2 in the atmosphere is the highest it has ever been in human history.
Greenland is melting dramatically. Antarctica is melting three times as fast as a decade ago.
Wildfires are burning in Alaska, Canada and Greenland, in the rainforests of the Amazon, and throughout Africa and Indonesia.
Between 1998 and 2017, direct economic losses from disasters were estimated at almost $3 trillion and climate-related and geophysical disasters claimed an estimated 1.3 million lives.
Yet investment in fossil fuels continues to be higher than investment in climate action.
Such business as usual should no longer be an option.
An ambitious response to climate change is central to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The science is non-negotiable: To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, CO2 emissions must fall to 45 per cent below 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.
However, four years after the adoption of the Paris Agreement, we are facing a significant emission reduction gap.
The current plans submitted by countries get us nowhere close to limiting temperature rise to well below 2C by the end of the century.
In fact, those plans would more than double this number. This would be disastrous. We cannot safely predict the future of humanity in this scenario.
This is a critical moment. Between now and 2020, as part of the Paris Agreement, countries will put forward the next generation of mid- and long-term national pledges on climate change. This will be the last chance to change course.
We know what the issues are and we know how to tackle them. The only thing we still lack is political will to make the tough decision at all levels and all constituencies – Government, Business and Society.
This is why Secretary General Guterres is convening tomorrow’s Summit.
He has called Member States and partners to demonstrate increased ambition, at this Summit, at COP25 later this year and beyond, to enhance the Nationally Determined Contributions by 2020 and achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.
I thank Chile for mobilizing political will under the mitigation track with the support of UN-Climate and the United Nations Development Programme.
The examples of courage and leadership that will be shared today provide evidence not only that transformation is possible but, most important, that it is happening.
We must feel compelled by these examples to act with determination.There is no other future but one in which greenhouse gas emissions have been consigned to the past.
I look forward to COP25 and to Chile’s leadership in ensuring this “Blue COP” pushes world leaders towards greater protection of our oceans.
Thank you.