01 November 2021

Secretary-General’s remarks at the COP26 Leaders’ Event: “Action and Solidarity - The Critical Decade”

I think this title is appropriate: Action and Solidarity - the Critical Decade. Because the most important act of solidarity, namely with the developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to climate change, is to guarantee that we do not go above 1.5 degrees. And to guarantee that we do not go above 1.5 degrees, this decade is essential.

I, of course, follow with a lot of interest all the commitments about net-zero in 2050, or 2060, or whatever. But the truth is, if the nationally determined contributions will not significantly improve, in relation to emissions during this decade, we will not be able to reach 1.5 degrees. It will be irreversible to lose that possibility.

But that creates a new kind of geography. Because the geography in which all these things were thought was a geography in which there were developed countries that have essentially created the problem of climate change, and developing countries that were the victims of that. And then, so there was a necessity of solidarity, by developed countries providing developing countries with the resources necessary to mitigation, but especially to adaptation, because they were already suffering the impacts of climate change.

But now, we have three groups of countries. We have developed countries, we have least developed countries, and developing countries of relatively small dimension. And we have middle income countries that are emerging economies, and that are relevant, from the point of view of emissions.

And so, the question of solidarity now is more complex. So, it has a dimension, with the least developed countries and the majority of the developing countries that do not contribute much to climate change, and that is why it is essential [for the] $100 billion to materialize, and to materialize seriously.

Let's be honest, the proposal that is on the table is not entirely responding to what is needed. I mean, it needs to be clear and guaranteed, and not the postponement that eventually, according to OECD, we will be able to [achieve]. I understand the frustration of developing countries, so we need to move one step further. And we need to mobilize international financial institutions for adaptation and mitigation and we need to have 50\50 for adaptation […] to do what was supposed to be done, based on the Paris Agreement, seriously, in terms of financial solidarity in all its aspects.  

But then we have the third group of countries. And the problem is that the third group of countries have nationally determined contributions in which the volume of emissions will not decrease, sometimes will even increase during the next decade. But [they] have real difficulties in relation to their productive sectors, and namely in relation to their energy sector, extremely dependent on coal, which means that we need to find here, naturally, asking them to make the maximum effort, we need to find, here, mechanisms of support for them to be able to accelerate the transition.

In my opinion, coalitions of developed countries that have the technology and the financial capacity to, on a case-by-case basis, see how we can have a plan in which each one of these big emerging economies is able to have a reduction of emissions in the next decade, compatible to keeping with 1,5 [degrees] because if not, we will not get there.

Of course, this means speaking seriously with China, speaking seriously with India, speaking seriously with Indonesia, with Turkey, and etcetera.

We cannot put it on a simple basis to say now you need to do, also, the same reduction that we are doing, because we have to recognize that [it is more complicated for] their economies to do so. We need to find here a strong technological and financial coalition to be able to make them really reduce emissions in order to keep the 1.5 [degrees]. Because without 1.5, there is no solidarity, the victims will be without. I mean, you look at SIDS [Small Islands Developing States] in the Caribbean and in the Pacific, look at African countries with droughts that [are] decimating entire regions. Look at the Corredor Seco (Dry Corridor) in Latin America.

It is clear that these two different fronts need to be addressed. The front of the financial support to developing countries and least developed and other developing countries that are not key emitters, which is essentially what we have been discussing, the $100 billion for adaptation, etcetera.

And then, a partnership, a partnership that is needed with those developing, middle income emerging economies, that are today an element without which it will be impossible to preserve 1.5 [degrees].