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Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the first meeting of the High-Level Expert Group on Net-Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities, today:

Dear friends, please accept my thanks for agreeing to join this High-Level Expert Group on the Net-Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State entities. 

It is essential that we ensure the credibility and environmental integrity of net zero pledges.  I have great faith in your efforts, led by Catherine McKenna and supported by an excellent technical secretariat.  Your skills and experience can help to keep 1.5 alive.  We know what we need — global emissions must decrease by 45 per cent by 2030, starting now.  Or rather yesterday.  We cannot overstate the urgency of our task.

But today, we see emissions still going up.  Fossil fuel interests are now cynically using the war in Ukraine to lock in a high carbon future.  Financial and technical obstacles to the deployment of renewable energy are hurting many developing countries.  The world is in a race against time.  We cannot afford slow movers, fake movers or any form of greenwashing.

At COP26 [the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow] I denounced the deficit of credibility and the surplus of confusion over emissions reductions and net zero targets.  That is why I decided I had to establish this group.

We need to ensure net-zero commitments are ambitious and credible, and that they align with the highest standards of environmental integrity and transparency.  They must also be actionable and mindful of different circumstances.

As you proceed, I ask you to work in an inclusive and open manner.  Your independence matters and the best protection against any accusation of “special interests” will be the full transparency of your consultations and process.

I intend to participate in your first in-person meeting in May.  And I will follow your efforts with great interest as we work together to ensure the transition to net-zero is swift, credible, just and inclusive.

Thank you for your vital work.

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