Copenhagen

10 October 2019

Opening remarks at press conference on climate change at C40 World Mayors Summit

António Guterres

Thank you, dear Special Envoy [for Climate Action] Mike Bloomberg, for your introduction, but especially for your leadership in climate action. 
 
This is my first international visit since the Climate Action Summit in New York – and it is fitting that it is here in Denmark. 
 
Copenhagen is a global climate action leader.
 
And the C40 is where the world’s mayors are showing they are at the forefront of tackling the climate emergency.
 
I called the Climate Action Summit last month to serve as a springboard to set us on the right path ahead of the crucial 2020 deadlines established by the Paris Agreement on climate change. 
 
And many leaders – from many countries and sectors – stepped up.
 
A broad coalition – not just governments and youth, but businesses, cities, investors and civil society – came together to move in the direction our world so desperately needs to avert climate catastrophe.
 
More than 70 countries, including Denmark, committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, even, and this even is extremely important, if major emitters have not yet done so.
 
And, particularly in relation to coal, I am particularly worried and I am very grateful for the initiative on coal that Mike Bloomberg is leading in the United States.
 
Far more is needed to heed the call of science and cut greenhouse emissions by 45 percent by 2030; reach carbon neutrality by 2050; and limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century. And these are the goals we must be able to achieve.
 
So cities are critical, and they are largely where the battle will be won or lost.
 
Cities are responsible for more than 70 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, so reducing their footprint is absolutely vital.
 
They are also in the front lines of the impacts of climate change, especially coastal cities and the most vulnerable urban dwellers.
 
Today, about four billion people live in urban areas, and the urban population is expected to grow by another 2.5 billion people by 2050.
 
Since we will be living with the infrastructure we build today, it is imperative to build that infrastructure to serve the carbon-neutral cities of tomorrow. If we build today infrastructures that are not green, we will have consequences in the decades to come.
 
The Climate Action Summit produced several large-scale initiatives to help advance the efforts of cities around the world.
 
The Leadership for Urban Climate Investment will strengthen the capacity of 2,000 cities to prepare climate action plans, creating 1,000 bankable projects while building new, innovative financing mechanisms.
 
The new Cities Climate Finance Gap Fund aims to raise more than 100 million euros in grants to unlock investments worth at least 4 billion euros in urban infrastructure projects.
 
And the Zero Carbon Buildings for All initiative brings together a strong international coalition to decarbonize the building sector and mobilize $1 trillion in finance.
 
City mayors and leaders are seeing the need – and the benefits – of taking action.
 
They know that improving the livability of a city – for example, by reducing emissions from traffic – can also improve people’s health.
 
And let’s not forget that according to the World Health Organization, 9 out of 10 people worldwide are exposed to air pollutants that exceed WHO air quality guidelines. This dirty air kills 7 million people a year – largely in cities – and contributes to the global climate emergency.
 
The C40 Summit is an important step on the journey for progress – to share best practices, and to increase the involvement of the business world, and the finance community in developing and implementing climate solutions together with the cities.
 
The Climate Action Summit proved that the global movement to a cleaner, greener future has started, it’s gaining momentum, the movement has begun. 
 
But we still have a long way to go. We are not yet there.
 
We must do more – much more – on a global scale to deal with this global challenge.
 
I am very happy and proud to be here with so many climate action leaders to express my full solidarity and commitment to keep pushing for the ambition our world urgently needs.
 
Thank you, and of course I will take a few questions.