Business Climate Development

2021 A Crucial Year for Climate Change: UN Chief

Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General

The United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said 2021 is a crucial year for climate change, UN News revealed.

He made these remarks on Monday when he was speaking to a Member States meeting as part of the preparations towards the latest annual UN climate conference, known as COP26, which will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, in November.

In his ongoing bid to secure greater commitment to averting climate catastrophe in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the UN Secretary-General warned that the world was far from attaining the agreed goals to lessen global warming.

However, he acknowledged the progress made over the past year, including towards cutting carbon emissions, though he indicated that it is not enough.

“The world is far from achieving agreed goals to reduce global warming in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change

“The world remains way off target in staying within the 1.5-degree limit of the Paris Agreement. This is why we need more ambition, more ambition on mitigation, ambition on adaptation and ambition on finance,” he told ambassadors.

Describing 2021 as “a crucial year in the fight against climate change”, the Secretary-General looked to Member States to build on this momentum on the road to Glasgow.

He said the global coalition to make net zero emissions a reality, needs to grow, to cover more than 90 per cent of all carbon entering the atmosphere, underscoring a UN priority.

As commitments must be supported by clear and credible plans, he urged countries to provide significantly more ambitious nationally determined contributions, as outlined in the agreement.

“The major economies and members of the G20 must lead the way.”

For the world to function better, Guteress said there was need to oblige to certain rules as he highlighted that coal must be phased out by 2040, while financing for the sector, and for other fossil fuels, must instead be redirected towards clean energy solutions.

He also called for a breakthrough on adaptation and resilience, which requires increasing support to vulnerable nations, including the world’s least developed countries and small island developing states.

“We have a moral obligation to do much better, and with new and scaled up finance initiatives and instruments,” the UN chief said.

He added that developed countries must meet their commitment made over ten years ago and reaffirmed in Paris, to mobilize $100 billion per year in climate finance to developing countries.

“This must be fully delivered in the run-up to COP26.”

Considering that the COP26 will be held in the wake of Covid-19, Guterres underlined the UN’s commitment to ensuring preparatory negotiations will take place virtually and ensure that the conference becomes a success.

“We will support this process in every way possible to ensure its success.

“We simply cannot allow the pandemic to keep us from working together on the crucial pathway to Glasgow. Although there will be challenges, we must adapt. The stakes are too high to do otherwise,” he said.

The Secretary-General has directed UN officials worldwide to make offices and venues available so that all countries can participate in virtual negotiations.

The COP26 was originally scheduled for last year but it had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende