UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said that the outcome of the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow has welcome steps, but they are not enough, as he described the approved texts as “a compromise”. Guterres, in a statement issued after the conclusion of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow on Saturday, said that our Glasgow is hanging by a thread .
The approved texts are a compromise. They reflect the interests, the conditions, the contradictions and the state of political will in the world today, the UN chief said. They take important steps, but unfortunately the collective political will was not enough to overcome some deep contradictions, he said. As I said at the opening, we must accelerate action to keep the 1.5 degree goal alive. We are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe. It is time to go into emergency mode or our chance of reaching net zero will itself be zero.
I reaffirm my conviction that we must end fossil fuels subsidies, Guterres said. Phase out coal. Put a price on carbon. Build resilience of vulnerable communities against the here and now impacts of climate change, he said, adding that make good on the USD 100 billion climate finance commitment to support developing countries. Negotiators from nearly 200 countries have accepted a new climate agreement after the COP26 summit in Glasgow concluded its extra time plenary on Saturday with a deal, which recognises India’s intervention for the world to “phase down” rather than “phase out” fossil fuels.
Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav, head of the Indian delegation at the Glasgow conference, said that the world needs to awaken to the reality that the current climate crisis has been precipitated by unsustainable lifestyles and wasteful consumption patterns in the developed countries. The UN Secretary General said: We did not achieve these goals at this conference. But we have some building blocks for progress. Commitments to end deforestation. To drastically reduce methane emissions. To mobilise private finance around net zero .
And the texts today reaffirm resolve towards the 1.5 degree goal. Boost climate finance for adaptation. Recognise the need to strengthen support for vulnerable countries suffering from irreparable climate damage. And for the first time they encourage international financial institutions to consider climate vulnerabilities in concessional financial and other forms of support, including Special Drawing Rights, Guterres said.
And finally close the Paris rule book with agreement on carbon markets and transparency, he noted. These are welcome steps, but they are not enough. Science tells us that the absolute priority must be rapid, deep and sustained emissions reductions in this decade. Specifically a 45 per cent cut by 2030 compared to 2010 levels. But the present set of Nationally Determined Contributions — even if fully implemented — will still increase emissions this decade on a pathway that will clearly lead us to well above 2 degrees by the end of the century compared to pre-industrial levels, Guterres said.
He welcomed the agreement between the US and China in Glasgow that pledges to accelerate action to reduce emissions in the 2020s. To help lower emissions in many other emerging economies, we need to build coalitions of support including developed countries, financial institutions, those with the technical know-how, the UN chief said, adding that this is crucial to help each of those emerging countries speed the transition from coal and accelerate the greening of their economies.
I want to make a particular appeal for our future work in relation to adaptation and the issue of loss and damage. Adaptation isn’t a technocratic issue, it is life or death. I was once Prime Minister of my country (Portugal). And I imagine myself today in the shoes of a leader from a vulnerable country, he asserted. Commenting on the availability of the vaccine against the coronavirus, he said that the COVID-19 vaccines are scarce.
My economy is sinking. Debt is mounting. International resources for recovery are completely insufficient. Meanwhile, although we contributed least to the climate crisis, we suffer most. And when yet another hurricane devastates my country, the treasury is empty. Protecting countries from climate disaster is not charity. It is solidarity and enlightened self-interest. We have another climate crisis today. A climate of mistrust is enveloping our globe. Climate action can help rebuild trust and restore credibility, Guterres said.
That means finally delivering on the USD 100 billion climate finance commitment to developing countries, he said. No more IOUs (I owe you). It means measuring progress, updating climate plans every year and raising ambition, the UN chief said. I will convene a global stock-taking summit at the heads of state level in 2023. And it means beyond the mechanisms already set out in the Paris Agreement establishing clear standards to measure and analyse net zero commitments from non-state actors. I will create a High-Level Expert Group with that objective.
Finally, I want to close with a message of hope and resolve to young people, indigenous communities, women leaders, all those leading the climate action army. I know many of you are disappointed, Guterres said. Success or failure is not an act of nature, he said, adding that it’s in our hands . The path of progress is not always a straight line. Sometimes there are detours. Sometimes there are ditches, he said.
As the great Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson said: Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant. We have many more seeds to plant along the path. We won’t reach our destination in one day or one conference. But I know we can get there. We are in the fight of our lives. Never give up. Never retreat. Keep pushing forward. I will be with you all the way. COP 27 starts now, the UN Secretary General added.