UN Headquarters

10 March 2020

Opening remarks at press conference on WMO State of the Climate 2019 Report

António Guterres

Thank you, Professor Taalas.

The indications are crystal clear.

Global heating is accelerating.

2019 was the second hottest year on record, with the past decade the hottest in human history.

Greenhouse gas concentrations are at the highest levels in 3 million years – when the Earth’s temperature was as much as 3 degrees hotter and sea levels some 15 metres higher.

Ocean heat is at a record level, with temperatures rising at the equivalent of five Hiroshima bombs a second.

We count the cost in human lives and livelihoods as droughts, wildfires, floods and extreme storms take their deadly toll.

We have no time to lose if we are to avert climate catastrophe.

This is a pivotal year for how we address the climate emergency.

We have to aim high at the next climate conference in Glasgow in November.

We need all countries to demonstrate that we can achieve emissions reductions of 45 per cent from 2010 levels this decade, and that we will reach net-zero emissions by mid-century.

We know this is the only way to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

In Glasgow, success will depend on countries, the private sector and civil society demonstrating that they are taking significant steps to raise ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance.

I see four main priorities for COP26.

First, national climate plans – the Nationally Determined Contributions, as they are called – must show more ambition.

Even if countries fully implement their existing plans under the Paris Agreement, and many are not doing so, we will still be on course to reach 3 degrees of heating this century.

Revised NDCs - Nationally Determined Contributions - must set clear targets for 2025 or 2030 that will help us stick to the 1.5-degree limit.

Second, all nations need to adopt strategies to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

So far, 70 countries have announced that they are committed to carbon neutrality by 2050.

Many other constituencies are doing the same, such as cities, banks and businesses.

But this still only represents less than a quarter of global emissions.

The largest emitters must commit, or our efforts will be in vain.

The third priority is for a robust package of programmes, projects and initiatives that will help communities and nations adapt to climate disruption and build resilience.

Let us have no illusions. Climate change is already causing calamity, and more is to come.

Supporting investment in adaptation in developing countries is a political and moral imperative.

The fourth priority is finance.

By COP26, developed countries must deliver on their commitment to mobilize 100 billion dollars a year by 2020.

Investments in renewables and green technologies must increase.

We need to end the vast and wasteful subsidies for fossil fuels, which actually increased last year.

And we need to put a price on carbon and see a commitment to end the construction of new coal power plants.

It’s time to end our addiction to coal.

Ultimately, COP 26 needs to demonstrate that the world is moving quickly in the right direction.

I count on the UK COP26 Presidency, on Member States, and on the full constellation of partners, including cities, the private sector, finance institutions, and the philanthropic community and civil society to commit to meaningful climate action before it is too late.

Thank you.