UN Calls for State of Climate Emergency

Planting Trees
Ethiopia has undertaken a major national reforestation programme in 2020, with the ambitious target of planting four billion trees., by Unsplash/Eyoel Abraham Kahssay

“Five years after Paris, we are still not going in the right direction”, said UN Secretary-General  António Guterres as he opened the virtual Climate Ambition Summit on the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement.

“Paris promised to limit temperature rise to as close to 1.5 degrees as possible,” said Guterres. “But the commitments made in Paris were far from enough to get there, and even those commitments are not being met,” he said.

In his opening speech, Guterres said Carbon dioxide levels are at record highs. “Today, we are 1.2 degrees hotter than before the industrial revolution,” he said. “If we don’t change course, we may be headed for a catastrophic temperature rise of more than 3 degrees this century, he added.

“Can anybody still deny that we are facing a dramatic emergency?”, asked Guterres of the world leaders. “That is why today, I call on all leaders worldwide to declare a State of Climate Emergency in their countries until carbon neutrality is reached,” he challenged them. “Some 38 countries have already done so, recognizing the urgency and the stakes, I urge all others to follow,” He added.

“We are not doomed to fail,” he told world leaders, “The recovery from COVID-19 presents an opportunity to set our economies and societies on a green path in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, but that is not yet happening,” he added.

“So far, the members of the G20 are spending 50 per cent more in their stimulus and rescue packages on sectors linked to fossil fuel production and consumption, than on low-carbon energy,” he told world leaders adding “This is unacceptable”.

“The trillions of dollars needed for COVID recovery is money that we are borrowing from future generations”, said Guterres to the world leaders adding “This is a moral test”. “We cannot use these resources to lock in policies that burden future generations with a mountain of debt on a broken planet, “he said adding “And so the central objective of the United Nations for 2021 is to build a truly Global Coalition for Carbon Neutrality by the middle of the century”. 

“But that promise is not enough,” Guterres told world leaders adding “To make it a reality, we need meaningful cuts now to reduce global emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 compared with 2010 levels”.

The United Kingdom has pledged to cut emissions by 68 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990. The European Union has agreed to cut their emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990.

“These decisions deserve to be emulated,” said Guterres, adding “Every country, city, financial institution and company needs to adopt plans to reach net zero emissions by 2050 — and start executing them now, including by providing clear short-term targets”

Pakistan announced that its scrapping plans for new coal power plants, India will soon more than double its renewable energy target, and China committed to increasing the share of non-fossil fuel in primary energy consumption to around 25% by 2030.

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