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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:
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.
Photos by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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