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UN Secretary-General at COP26: “Either we stop it — or it stops us.”

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres says that addiction to fossil fuels is pushing humanity to the brink: “We face a stark choice: Either we stop it — or it stops us. It’s time to say: enough. Enough of brutalizing biodiversity. Enough of killing ourselves with carbon. Enough of treating nature like a toilet” he told the delegates at COP26, the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow.

In his opening statement to COP26, Mr. Guterres said that if at the end of the meeting, commitments fall short, countries must revisit their national climate plans and policies. “Not every five years.  Every year.  Until keeping to 1.5 degrees is assured. Until subsidies to fossil fuels end. Until there is a price on carbon. And until coal is phased out.”

The Secretary-General said that recent climate action announcements might give the impression that we are on track to turn things around. “This is an illusion.  The last published report on Nationally Determined Contributions showed that they would still condemn the world to a calamitous 2.7 degree increase.”

Progress to build upon

However, the Secretary-General said there was “progress to build upon.”  He pointed out that many have pulled the plug on international financing of coal, that over 700 cities are leading the way to carbon neutrality and the Net-Zero Asset Owners Alliance is managing $10 trillion in assets and catalyzing change across industries.

“A number of countries have made credible commitments to net-zero emissions by mid-century…The climate action army — led by young people — is unstoppable. They are larger.  They are louder. And, I assure you, they are not going away. I stand with them.”

Furthermore, the Secretary-General expressed his worries over a “deficit of credibility and a surplus of confusion over emissions reductions and net zero targets, with different meanings and different metrics.”

“That is why…I am announcing today that I will establish a Group of Experts to propose clear standards to measure and analyze net zero commitments from non-state actors. “

Keep the 1.5°C goal alive

He concluded his speech with a stark warning that the world is heading for climate disaster.

“We must keep the goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius alive.

This requires greater ambition on mitigation and immediate concrete action to reduce global emissions by 45 per cent by 2030…We need maximum ambition – from all countries on all fronts – to make Glasgow a success,” Mr. Guterres said.

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