Article / 27 Aug, 2019
UN Chief Calls on G7 Leaders to Tackle Climate Emergency

UN Climate Change News, 27 August 2019 - People all over the world are calling for a shift towards a greener, cleaner future, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said during the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, yesterday, stressing that “we have the tools to address the climate emergency, but we need more political will.” 

The UN chief met with G7 leaders during the 3-day summit to mobilize action ahead of his Climate Action Summit taking place next month in New York.   

Mr. Guterres said the UN Summit – and the need for concrete action – comes against the backdrop of a “dramatic climate emergency,” with reports from the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) that 2015 to 2019 are on track to be the five hottest years on record, and historically high concentrations of C02 in the atmosphere.

And with Greenland’s dramatic ice-melting and record-setting fires burning from Alaska to the Amazon, the Secretary-General said that we are much worse than we were during Paris in 2015 when the landmark Paris Climate Change Agreement was reached.  

He said that recent scientific evidence provided by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made it clear what action has to be taken:

“We absolutely need to keep the rise of temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius to the end of the century and to be carbon neutral in 2050 and to have a 45% reduction of emissions by 2030.”  

Mr. Guterres stressed that “it’s absolutely essential that countries commit themselves to increase what was promised in Paris because what was promised in Paris is not enough,” and called for more ambition and a stronger commitment from the international community.

The UN chief said society is mobilizing, as well as the world’s youth, “and we want to have countries coming to New York and being able to commit to be carbon neutral in 2050, being able to increase substantially their ambition in the Nationally Determined Contributions to climate action that have to be reviewed in 2020.”  

Mr. Guterres also stressed the need to make sure that countries are “shifting taxes from people to carbon” and ending subsidies to fossil fuels, and that more coal power plants are not built after 2020. 

“All this requires a lot of political will, and the G7 was an excellent opportunity to appeal for the very strong engagement of the international community,” said the Secretary-General, adding that: “The youth have been leading the way, and we’ll start the Summit with a youth climate summit in the UN, but we need, especially those countries that belong to the G7, to give a positive example.” 

A further critical platform to mobilize climate action comes in the shape of two regional climate weeks, one held immediately before the G7 summit and one taking place shortly after. The Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week (LACCW 2019) held in Salvador, Brazil, closed last Friday with calls for more ambition to implement national climate plans (known as Nationally Determined Contribution, or "NDCs") and to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

LACCW is the second Regional Climate Week to be organized this year, following a Regional Climate Week in Africa in Accra, Ghana in March. A third Regional Climate Week Asia-Pacific Climate Week is due to take place from 2 to 6 September in Bangkok, Thailand, with the results of all three events feeding into the Secretary General’s climate summit in September.

Read full transcript of press conference