29 October 2021

Opening remarks to the media at the G20 (Rome)

António Guterres

Ladies and gentlemen of the media, Buongiorno. 
We are at a pivotal moment for our planet.   
On the eve of COP26 in Glasgow, all roads to success go through Rome. 
But let’s be clear — there is a serious risk that Glasgow will not deliver. 
Several recent climate announcements might leave the impression of a rosier picture.  
Unfortunately, this is an illusion.   
The current Nationally Determined Contributions — formal commitments by governments — still condemn the world to a calamitous 2.7 degree increase.  
Even if recent pledges were clear and credible — and there are serious questions about some of them — we are still careening towards climate catastrophe. 
Under the best-case scenario, temperatures will still rise well above two degrees. 
That is a disaster.   
If we want real success — and not just a mirage — we need more ambition and more action.  

That will only be possible with a massive mobilization of political will.  And that requires trust among the key actors. 
Today, trust is in short supply.  There are serious questions of credibility.  
We see dangerous levels of mistrust among the big powers.  Among members of the G20.  Between developed and developing countries — including emerging economies.   
The most important objective of this G20 summit must be to re-establish trust — by tackling the main sources of mistrust — rooted in injustices, inequalities and geo-political divisions.  
My appeal to the G20 is for decisive steps to bridge the trust gap on three fronts.  
First, vaccine inequality. 
I have long been pushing the G20 to lead a global vaccination plan to reach everyone, everywhere. 
That plan did not materialize — largely because of geo-political divides.  
Global coordinated action has taken a backseat to vaccine hoarding and vaccine nationalism. 
People in the richest countries are getting third doses of vaccine, while only 5 per cent of Africans are fully vaccinated. 
Last month, I joined the World Health Organization in launching a new Global Vaccination Strategy with an aim of getting vaccines into the arms of 40 per cent of people in all countries by the end of this year — and 70 per cent by mid-2022.  
I urge G20 countries to fully support this Strategy and to coordinate their actions for success. 
That is the only way to end the pandemic for everyone, everywhere.  
Second, the vast disparity in resources for pandemic recovery is eroding trust.  
Advanced economies are investing nearly 28 per cent of their Gross Domestic Product into economic recovery.    
For middle-income countries, that number falls to 6.5 per cent.  
For the Least Developed Countries, it’s less than two per cent – of a much smaller amount.  
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects that over the next five years, cumulative economic growth per capita in Sub-Saharan Africa will be 75 per cent less than the rest of the world. 
The recovery is amplifying inequalities. This is immoral.  
The IMF recently issued $650 billion in Special Drawing Rights. 
But this support largely goes to the countries that need them least since the SDRs are distributed according to quotas — an injustice in itself.  
That’s why I have been calling for a substantial — not symbolic —  re-allocation of unused SDRs to vulnerable countries that need them, including middle-income countries. 
The G20 has a key role to guarantee it. The G20 taken some steps in relation to debt for developing countries. But far more is needed.  
I urge the G20 to extend the Debt Service Suspension Initiative into next year and make it available to highly indebted vulnerable and middle-income countries that request it.  

Building on the Common Framework on Debt Treatments, we also need a mechanism for debt relief that actually works and is available to all in need and we are a long way from it. Countries should not be forced to choose between servicing their debt or serving their people.  
Third, trust is being undermined by a lack of climate ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance.   
We need greater ambition on mitigation to get us on a credible pathway to 1.5 degree Celsius —  a target that science tells us is the only sustainable future for our world.  
This requires concrete action now to reduce global emissions by 45 per cent by 2030. G20 countries have a particular responsibility to keep the 1.5 degree goal alive, as they represent around 80 per cent of emissions.  
According to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in light of national circumstances, developed countries must lead the effort. 
But given the present situation, emerging economies, too, must go the extra mile to achieve effective global emissions reductions in this decade. 
We need maximum ambition, from all countries on all fronts. 
Ambition on adaptation means donors — including multilateral development banks — allocating at least half of their climate finance towards adaptation and resilience.   
They are far from it. 
The G20 must lead a strong impulse for this to be possible. 
Ambition on climate finance includes making good on the commitment to provide $100 billion each year to developing countries.  
I welcome efforts led by Canada and Germany to help get us there. 
It is a first step — but it delays the largest support for years, without clear guarantees.  
Unfortunately, the message to developing countries is essentially this:  The check is in the mail.  
On all our climate goals, we have miles to go.  And we must pick up the pace.       
Scientists are clear on the facts.    
Leaders must be as clear in their actions.     
Glasgow can be a turning point towards a safer, greener world for our children and grandchildren.  

It is not too late.  
But we must act now. 
I urge the G20 to show the solidarity that people want and our world desperately needs — and this begins by rebuilding trust and credibility, first of all, among their members. 

Thank you.