Amid the busy UN Summits Week, Heads of State and Government and other leaders convened for a full day of discussions on pathways towards accelerated climate action and increased ambition.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres reminded delegates that “humanity has opened the gates of hell,” leaving current levels of climate action “dwarfed by the scale of the challenge.” He stressed that the world’s poorest nations have a “right to be angry” about lagging ambition, lacking climate finance, and skyrocketing costs of borrowing.
Highlights from leaders’ statements included:
- calls for negotiating a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty;
- updates on the development of Joint Energy Transition Partnerships;
- announcements of earlier dates for phasing out fossil fuels;
- criticisms of fossil fuel companies’ deceit and inaction;
- appetite for reigning in corporate greenwashing and enhancing the credibility of net-zero commitments; and
- resolve to recapitalize the Green Climate Fund in the context of its second replenishment.
Several speakers said the outcome of the first Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement should serve as a course correction to achieve the 1.5°C target. Momentum seemed to be growing to adopt a goal to triple renewable energy and double energy efficiency by 2030.
Developing countries and others underscored their support for the UN Secretary-General’s “Early Warning for All” initiative, with several offering to share lessons learned through South-South cooperation.
Solidarity was a theme of discussions on decarbonization, as well. Governments offered to share experience in emissions trading schemes, recognizing the need for all possible sources of finance. High-emitting industries like steel and cement were a target for raising ambition.
As the day’s discussions concluded, Guterres listened to the key messages of the day and reflected that leaders had helped to turn ambition to hope. Addressing those who had been featured as “climate doers,” he asked them to keep going: scale up action, bring more people together, and “take no prisoners.”