In his opening statement, Secretary-General António Guterres told the Roundtable, that “the world has a high fever and is burning up”.
Noting that climate disruption is “daily news”, he painted a picture of the past decade being the hottest on record, rising greenhouse gases and devastating wildfires, combined with record floods that are upending people and the planet.
“The recent United in Science report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is unequivocal”, he told the meeting. “We must urgently reverse course”.
Against this backdrop, he urged everyone “to act on three urgent priorities”, beginning with sustainable COVID-19 recovery plans that tackle climate change.
In recovering from the pandemic, UN chief stressed the need for everyone to work together to end fossil-fuel subsides, put a price on carbon and consider climate risks in all financial and policy decisions.
“And most important, leave no one behind”, he said.
The UN chief outlined specific action which needs to start immediately, including COVID-19 recovery packages that also decarbonize the global economy, and policies consistent with the key goal of limiting emissions to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“Transitioning to renewable energy…will yield three times as many jobs as fossil fuels”, he said, noting, “the possibilities of a sustainable blue economy are still untapped”.
Secondly, the UN chief told the meeting that science must guide them in protecting economies and societies – zeroing in on a 45 per cent reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by 2030.
He described the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement in December, as “an important moment to continue raising climate ambition”.
Finally, the Secretary-General stressed that all solutions must prioritize the most vulnerable nations and communities through just transition policies, international cooperation and solidarity.
On the current path, “the scale of suffering around the world due to climate disruption will be beyond all our imaginations”, he said, urging everyone to commit “now” to sweeping climate action.