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Closing remarks by António Guterres, Secretary-General, at the Closing of Climate Action Summit 2019.

Secretary-General António Guterres had warned world leaders not to come to his landmark Climate Action Summit with “platitudes”, but to present concrete plans for cutting harmful greenhouse gas emissions, and strategies for carbon neutrality by 2050. At the closing of the summit today (23 Sep), he thanked them “for delivering.”

Guterres also thanked young people “for leading the charge and holding my generation accountable.” He said, “we have been losing the fight against climate crises, but the world is waking up. Pressure is building, momentum is growing, and action by action the tide is turning.”

He said, “77 countries, many in the industrialized world, committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. They were joined by ten regions and more than 100 cities, including several of the world’s largest. 70 countries announced they will boost their National Determined Contributions by 2020. Well over 100 leaders in the private sector committed to accelerating their move into the green economy.”

87 major companies – with a combined market capitalization of over US$2.3 trillion, over 4.2 million employees, and annual direct emissions equivalent to 73 coal-fired power plants – committed to setting climate targets across their operations.

These businesses include well-known brands such as Burberry, Danone, Ericsson, Electrolux, IKEA, and Nestlé. A number of these companies went a step further, by committing to “science-based targets”, which means that their corporate emissions cuts can be independently assessed.

In the finance sector, some of the world’s largest pension funds and insurers, responsible for directing more than $2 trillion in investments, have joined together to form the Asset Owner Alliance, which committed to moving their portfolios to carbon-neutral investments by 2050. The members of the Alliance are already engaging with companies in which they are investing, to ensure that they are decarbonizing their business models.

The Secretary-General, nevertheless, said “much more is still needed to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 and keep temperature rise to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century.”

He said, “we need more concrete plans, more ambition from more countries and more businesses. And we need all financial institutions, public and private, to choose once and for all the green economy. And we need to see much more progress on carbon pricing and ending coal and other fossil fuel subsidies in the months to come.”

Among other initiatives, a total of 2000 cities committed to placing climate risk at the centre of their decision-making, planning and investments: this includes launching 1,000 bankable, climate-smart urban projects, and creating innovative financing mechanisms.