Media Stakeout by António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, following the Informal Leaders Roundtable on Climate Action.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, based on the present commitments by countries, “the world is on a catastrophic pathway to 2.7-degrees of heating” adding that “unless we collectively change course, there is a high risk of failure of COP26.”

Speaking to reporters following the informal Leaders Roundtable on Climate Action convened jointly today (20 Sep) by Guterres and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Secretary-General said, to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, a 45 per cent cut in emissions by 2030 was needed. He said, “The commitments made until now by countries imply an increase of 16 per cent in greenhouse gas emissions – not a decrease of 45 percent – an increase of 16 percent in greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 compared to 2010 levels. This means that unless we collectively change course, there is a high risk of failure of COP26. So, today, I asked leaders to do what is needed to make sure COP26 is a success and that it marks a true turning point.”

Guterres stressed that the international community must deliver on three fronts on the road to COP26 in Glasgow: keeping the 1.5-degree goal within reach, delivering on the promised 100 billion USD a year for climate action in developing countries, and scaling up funding for adaptation to at least 50 per cent of total public climate finance.

The UN chief said, “I understand the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. Developed countries need to take the lead. But it is also essential for several emerging economies to go the extra mile and to effectively contribute to emissions reductions.”

Guterres said leadership was especially needed from all G20 members, which represent 80 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. He added that governments must shift subsidies away from fossil fuels and progressively phase out coal use. He said, “If all planned coal power plants become operational, we will not only be clearly above 1.5 degrees – we will be well above 2 degrees. And the Paris targets would go up in smoke.”

On finance, The Secretary-General said developed nations need to implement their promise to mobilize $100 billion dollars a year for climate action in the developing world from 2021 to 2025. He noted that failure to fulfil this pledge would be a major source of the erosion of trust between developed and developing countries.

The UN chief said, “Overall, my message this morning, and to the Conference of Parties in November, is that we need decisive action now to avert climate catastrophe. And for that we need solidarity. Saving this and future generations is a common responsibility.”

Guterres said there were encouraging declarations at today’s meeting regarding the 100 billion USD commitment, and there is a growing concern about adaptation; but there is a long way to go in the reduction of emissions. He said arguments made by developing and developed countries are no longer valid. He added, “Everybody must do their job. Developed countries and emerging economies must be able to contribute, all of them, for the possibility of reaching net zero in 2050 and a very strong reduction of emissions in 2030; and we are not yet there.”

The UN chief said it was fully ready to support Prime Minister Johnson and his team in their constant efforts to bring the world back on track.