Following is the text of UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ video message at the opening of the “Race to Zero” Dialogues, held today:
I thank Gonzalo Muñoz and Nigel Topping – the High‑Level Champions for Global Climate Action of the twenty‑fifth and twenty‑sixth sessions of the Conference of the Parties (COP25 and COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – for convening these dialogues on the original date for COP26.
The postponement highlights the disruption the COVID‑19 pandemic has caused. And these dialogues highlight that climate action is more urgent than ever as we work to recover from the effects of the pandemic.
Recently, we have heard encouraging announcements. The European Union, Japan and the Republic of Korea, together with more than 110 other countries, have pledged carbon neutrality by 2050. China says it will do so before 2060.
That means 50 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) and half of global CO2 emissions are now covered by a net‑zero commitment. And the number of net‑zero commitments from companies has more than doubled in the past year to over 1,100.
Yet, we are still far from where we need to be. Our goal is to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre‑industrial levels. Today, we are still headed towards 3 degrees at least. We need your ambition and action.
I urge you and the members of the different coalitions you are part of to promote, develop and implement credible decarbonization plans. Expand your coalitions and initiatives. Bring your supply chain and partners on board in time for the Climate Ambition Summit I am co‑hosting on 12 December – the five‑year anniversary of the Paris Agreement [on climate change]. Disclose your climate‑related financial risks. Prioritize investments that contribute to a low‑carbon, sustainable, climate‑resilient recovery. And join me in asking Governments to choose the green recovery pathway.
I commend the many organizations that have come together here to organize more than 90 solutions‑oriented events. This is the kind of collaboration we need to achieve a 1.5 degree resilient world. We are moving in the right direction, but we need greater speed.
That means strong leadership from Governments, businesses, cities and civil society around the world. We have the tools to decarbonize our systems and build resilient societies.
But the window of opportunity is closing. All Governments, cities, financial institutions and private businesses must establish their transition plans for net‑zero emissions by 2050. We need everyone to commit to carbon neutrality by 2050, and to take climate action that will benefit people and the planet. I wish you a productive meeting. Thank you.