World is running out of time in climate fight warns UN

Global governments have been warned they are losing then race against time in their fight to halt the impact of climate change.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has said the world’s richest economies have a duty to lead the world in the fight against global warming by showing the way but added the window of opportunity to do so was closing.

“Recently, we have seen recent encouraging responses,” he told a meeting of European leaders.  “The European Union, Japan and the Republic of Korea have pledged carbon neutrality by 2050, along with more than 110 other countries.  China says it will do so before 2060.

“By early 2021, countries representing more than 65 per cent of global carbon‑dioxide emissions and more than 70 per cent of the world economy will have made ambitious commitments to carbon neutrality.  But we are still running behind in the race against time.  Every country, city, financial institution and company should adopt plans for transitioning to net‑zero emissions by 2050.  We need to see these plans well in advance of COP26 — in particular the nationally determined contributions required under the Paris Agreement and the long-term strategies we need to become carbon neutral.”

Mr Guterres said it as for the world’s most advanced economies to create the path for the world to follow.

“The G20 countries, which are responsible for more than 80 per cent of climate pollution, must show the way,” he explained “The European Union has led on net‑zero emissions in the G20.  I urge you to continue to lead with concrete and ambitious near-term commitments.  It is essential that the European Union commits to reducing emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030 in its new nationally determined contribution.

“The Climate Ambition Summit I am co-hosting with the United Kingdom and France on the five-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement represents a clear opportunity for the European Union to present its more ambitious climate plan.”

Mr Guterres said enhanced ambition from the G20 also means aligning economic plans and COVID‑19 recovery measures with the Sustainable Development Goals.

By fully implementing its “Green Deal” and “Next Generation EU”, and by mainstreaming climate change into its long-term budget, the European Union can show the world how to move towards climate neutrality and climate resilience while ensuring prosperity and a just transition,” he said.  “The proposed €1.85 trillion investment package is an opportunity to invest in measures and technologies needed to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.”

“The decisions taken now on how the funding will be allocated will shape the direction of travel for years to come,” said Mr Guterres.  “It is essential that the European Union accelerates its transition towards clean energy.  The proposals of the European Union to speed up this shift in a way which confronts inequality and protects those affected by the transition can set a powerful example to the rest of the world.”

He said the coal industry “is going up in smoke, as investors see more stranded assets and voters see more harmful pollution and climate damage”.

As such there must be no new coal, and all existing coal in the European Union should be phased out by 2030 in OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, and by 2040 elsewhere.

“Furthermore, I ask the European Union to stop the financing of fossil fuels internationally and to promote a shift in taxation from income to carbon,” he said.