The Climate Action Summit took place in the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Hall.
The UN Climate Action Summit, an initiative of UN Secretary-General António Guterres to encourage increased ambition on climate change action, was attended by over 65 heads of state and government, in addition to leaders of sub-national governments and from the private sector. “We don’t negotiate with Nature,” Guterres said in his opening address. He urged leaders to be ambitious in their commitments, saying “the biggest cost is subsidizing a dying fossil fuel industry, building more and more coal power plants, denying what is plain as day, that we are in a deep climate hole and to get out of it we must first stop digging.”
Greta Thunberg, a young activist from Sweden, accused governments of “failing us” in a stirring address during a youth dialogue with the Secretary-General. “People are suffering, dying, ecosystems collapsing,” she said. “We are at the beginning of a mass extinction. All you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth.”
The opening ceremony was followed by thematic sessions, interspersed by general statements by heads of state and government. Thematic sessions were held on: Plans for a Carbon Neutral World; Climate Finance; Powering the Future from Coal to Clean; Unlocking the Potential of Nature in Climate Action; Towards a Resilient Future; Small Island Developing States; Live, Work and Move Green; Cutting Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Now with Cooling and Energy Efficiency; Adapting Now: Making People Safer; Least Developed Countries; People Centered Action Now; and the Economy Moving from Grey to Green.
A number of commitments and announcements were made through the day by national and sub-national governments, and private sector representatives, including:
Commitments to double contributions to the Green Climate Fund by France, Norway, the Republic of Korea, and Sweden, and climate finance pledges from countries, including from the UK, Qatar, Spain, and Singapore. Philanthropies also made commitments, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
National plans, including for climate neutrality by Germany (by 2050) and Slovakia (also by 2050); and a reduction of emissions by Denmark (70% reduction, compared to 1990), and the Netherlands (95% by 2050, compared to 1990). The Russian Federation announced its ratification of the Paris Agreement.
Commitments by sub-national governments, including a commitment by Montreal, Canada, to reduce emissions by 55% by 2030; by Maine, US, to become carbon neutral by 2045; and by Surabaya, Indonesia, to launch a climate-friendly transport initiative.
Ambitious plans by vulnerable countries like Djibouti, Fiji, and Seychelles to achieve 100% renewable energy, and to strengthen adaptation efforts.
Commitments by private sector actors, including by the power company Ørsted to become carbon neutral by 2025; and a call by asset managers overseeing USD 34 trillion to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.
President Sebastián Piñera Echeñique, Chile, the host nation for the 25th Conference of Parties (COP 25) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December 2019, said 30 countries have committed to carbon neutrality by 2030, and more than 60 have committed to increasing ambition in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
In the final reckoning, however, observers expressed concern that the sum total of new contributions is “tragically insufficient” in light of the scale of the fundamental transformation that is needed. They wondered whether any of the day’s commitments really strike a fatal blow to the “fairy tales of eternal economic growth.”
IISD Reporting Services, through its ENB meeting coverage, provided daily web coverage, reports of each of the Summits and High-level meetings, and a summary and analysis report of the UN Summits Week 2019.
Delegates watch a video projected onto the walls of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Hall as the summit begins.
The Climate Summit opens with a youth dialogue, including: UN Secretary-General António Guterres; Anurag Saha Roy, India; Paloma Costa, Brazil; and Greta Thunberg, Sweden
UN Secretary-General António Guterres
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand
President Hilda Heine, Marshall Islands
Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India
Statements Throughout the Day
President Emmanuel Macron, France
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Jamaica
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Qatar
Wind turbines are projected onto the walls of the UNGA Hall.
Speakers for 'Plans for a Carbon Neutral World': Oliver Bäte, CEO, Allianz SE; Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montreal and ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability) Global Ambassador for Local Biodiversity; Michael Bloomberg, UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Climate Action; President Sauli Niinistö, Finland; President Sebastián Piñera Echeñique, Chile
Vice-President Jusuf Kalla, Indonesia
Wang Yi, State Councilor and Special Representative of President Xi Jinping, China
Speakers for 'Powering the Future from Coal to Clean': José Ignacio Sánchez Galán, CEO, Iberdrola; Henrik Poulsen, CEO, Ørsted; Jane Burston, Executive Director, Clean Air Fund; and President Zuzana Čaputová, Slovakia
Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Iceland
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Denmark
Speakers for 'Unlocking the Potential of Nature in Climate Action': Emmanuel Faber, CEO and Chairman, Danone; President Jimmy Morales, Guatemala; President Félix Antoine Tshilombo Tshisekedi, Democratic Republic of Congo; Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Norway; and Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan
President Moon Jae-in, Republic of Korea
Prince Albert II, Monaco
Speakers for 'Cutting GHG Emissions Now with Cooling and Energy Efficiency': Eric Rondolat, CEO and Chairman, Signify; Kate Hampton, CEO, Children Investment Fund Foundation; Frank Jensen, Lord Mayor, City of Copenhagen, Denmark; and President Danny Faure, Seychelles
Speakers for 'Towards a Resilient Future': John Haley, CEO, Willis Towers Watson; Governor Mark Carney, Bank of England; Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the Netherlands; President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria; and Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, Fiji
President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, Portugal
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore
President Iván Duque Márquez, Colombia
Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, Ireland
Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Gordeyev, Russian Federation
Speakers for Small Island Developing States: Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Barbados; Francesco La Camera, Director-General, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA); President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Maldives; Prime Minister Allen Michael Chastanet, Saint Lucia; and President Tommy Esang Remengesau Jr., Palau
President Carlos Alvarado Quesada, Costa Rica
Princess Lalla Hasnaa, Morocco
Speakers for 'Adapting Now: Making People Safer': David Malpass, President, World Bank Group; Bill Gates, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Co-Chair of the Global Commission on Adaptation; Tuntiak Katan, Indigenous Peoples Representative; Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, UK
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greece
Speakers for 'Live, Work and Move Green': President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey; Werner Hoyer, President, European Investment Bank; Tri Rismaharini; Mayor of Surabaya and President of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) Asia Pacific; Janet Mills, Governor, State of Maine, US; President Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya
UN Secretary-General António Guterres closes the session and thanks dignitaries for their commitment to addressing the climate crisis.
Around the Venue
Dignitaries arrive in the UNGA Hall.
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa speaks with Amina J. Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General
Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UN Environment Programme (UNEP)
Mary Robinson, Mary Robinson Foundation
Representatives from Mexico
Franz Perrez, Switzerland, speaks with a delegate
Carolina Schmidt, Minister of the Environment, Chile, and UNFCCC COP 25 President-designate
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