Il Segretario Generale
Osservazioni al Lancio del Rapporto UNEP Emissions Gap
New York, 20 novembre 2023
Once again a very good morning.
I thank Inger and all her colleagues at the UN Environment Programme.
Today’s Emissions Gap report shows that if nothing changes, in 2030, emissions will be 22 Gigatonnes higher than the 1.5 degree-limit will allow.
That’s roughly the total present annual emissions of the USA, China, and the EU combined.
It shows greenhouse emissions reaching [an] all-time highs – a 1.2 per cent increase on last year – when those levels should be shooting down.
And those emissions are shattering temperature records. June, July, August, September and October were all the hottest on record.
Present trends are racing our planet down a dead-end three-degree temperature rise.
In short, the report shows that the emissions gap is more like an emissions canyon.
A canyon littered with broken promises, broken lives, and broken records.
All of this is a failure of leadership, a betrayal of the vulnerable, and a massive missed opportunity.
Renewables have never been cheaper or more accessible.
We know it is still possible to make the 1.5 degree limit a reality. And we know how to get there – we have roadmaps from the International Energy Agency and the IPCC.
It requires tearing out the poisoned root of the climate crisis: fossil fuels.
And it demands a just, equitable renewables transition.
Leaders must drastically up their game, now, with record ambition, record action, and record emissions reductions.
The next round of national climate plans will be pivotal.
These plans must be backed with the finance, technology, support and partnerships to make them possible.
The task of leaders at COP28 is to make sure that happens.
This COP will respond to the Global Stocktake – an inventory of country’s climate plans which will show just how far the world is from meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement.
That response is vital. Voluntary initiatives and non-binding commitments can play an important role. But they are no substitute for a global response agreed by all.
The response to the Global Stocktake must light the fuse to an explosion of ambition in 2025.
It must align with what the science tells us is needed.
It must set out plans to massively increase ambition and investment in adaptation.
It must commit to a surge in finance and cooperation.
And it must set an expectation for more ambitious and detailed national climate plans.
That means national plans with clear 2030 and 2035 targets, that align with 1.5 degrees, that cover the whole economy, and that plot a course for ending fossil fuels.
These plans must provide clear market signals.
We need market forces driving down emissions.
Governments need to put in place policies and regulations to give the private sector the certainty and predictability it desperately needs.
And the Global Stocktake response must be clear that credible action from the private sector is vital.
We need companies to produce comprehensive transition plans, in line with the recommendations of the High-Level Expert Group that I have created.
No more greenwashing. No more foot dragging.
Specifically, in their response to the Global Stocktake, countries must commit to triple renewables capacity, double energy efficiency and bring clean power to all, by 2030.
And they must also commit to phasing out fossil fuels, with a clear time frame aligned to the 1.5-degree limit.
Otherwise, we’re simply inflating the lifeboats while breaking the oars.
Achieving all this depends on countries cooperating and working together. The recent climate statement between China and the USA is a positive first step. But much more needs to be done.
And it depends on restoring trust between developed and developing countries, which has been badly damaged by broken promises and sluggish action.
Countries that have not yet done so should announce their contributions to the Green Climate Fund.
We need generous, early contributions to the new Loss and Damage Fund to get it off to a roaring start.
And I welcome the European Union’s commitment to a substantial contribution, and look forward to hearing the details.
Developed countries must honour their promise of $100 billion a year in climate finance.
And they must deliver a clear plan on how they will meet their commitment to double adaptation finance to at least US$40 billion a year by 2025.
At a time of doubt, division and distrust we need the response to the Global Stocktake to restore credibility in climate action.
Leaders can’t kick the can any further. We’re out of road.
COP28 must set us up for dramatic climate action – now.
And finally, let me add that later today, I will travel to Chile and then to Antarctica to see for myself the deadly impact of the climate crisis.
Scorching temperatures mean Antarctic ice is melting ever-faster, with deadly consequences for people around the world.
I will take my experiences to COP where I will call for action that matches the scale of the crisis we face.
And I thank you.
Question: Thank you, on behalf of the United Nations Correspondents Association, for this press conference. So my question on climate is how confident you are for a real concrete turning point emerging from COP28, especially from the countries with the highest emissions? And if I may a question on the Middle East. What is your vision for the day after in Gaza? Thank you so much.
Secretary-General: well, first of all in relation to COP28. We must reverse course and as we have seen in this report, the crucial aspect is the eviction of fossil fuels. So it is time to establish a clear phased-out with a time limit linked to the 1.5 degrees and it’s time to be determined in pursuing that phase-down policy. And I hope that governments will understand it and I hope that there will be a clear signal from this COP that we must head in that direction.
Now you ask about the day after. To have an after, we must have a before. And the before obviously conditions the after and that is why I have been insisting on the need for a humanitarian ceasefire, on unrestricted access for humanitarian aid, on the liberation of hostages and on the need to end the violations of international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians.
And having said so, I think it is also important to be able to transform this tragedy into an opportunity. And for that to be possible, it is essential that after the war we move in a determined and irreversible way to a two-state solution. Now that means of course that after the war and this is my opinion, I believe it will be important to have a strengthened Palestinian Authority assuming responsibilities in Gaza. I understand that the Palestinian Authority cannot come with Israeli tanks in Gaza which means that the international community needs to move into a transition period. I do not think that a UN protectorate in Gaza is a solution. I think we need a multi-stakeholder approach in which different countries, different entities, will cooperate. For Israel, of course, the US is the main guarantor of its security. For Palestinians, the neighbouring and Arab countries of the region are essential. So everybody needs to come together to make the conditions for a transition, allowing for the Palestinian Authority, a strengthened Palestinian Authority, to assume responsibility in Gaza and then, based on that, to finally move, as I said, in a determined and irreversible way to a two-state solution based on the principles that have been largely established by the international community and which I have time and time again outlined.
Question: thank you Secretary-General for this important briefing and the chance to ask you some questions. I am wondering if you see the intense conflicts in the world as a distraction or an opportunity with the conference coming up? But more specifically your calls for a ceasefire in Gaza have gone unheeded so far. You said over the weekend you were shocked by two UN schools and shelters being attacked. That would be a war crime, would it not? Why not call it out?
Secretary-General: first of all, it is clear that we have a distraction in relation to the big challenges that the international community faces in relation to climate change, in relation to dramatic inequalities around the world, in relation to the problem of technologies that can change the world without effective regulation.
Now, I have been very clear in denouncing the violations of international humanitarian law and the violations of protection of civilians and I have not a mandate to classify the acts that are entities that are recommended. But I think that more important than a discussion on names is the facts and let’s see the facts. As you know, we report every year on children killed in armed conflict. I have already presented seven reports. In the seven reports, the highest number of children killed in one year by one actor was by the Taliban in 2017, 2018. The second by the Syrian Government and its allies in again before 2020 and again it was around 700. We have had Russia last year 350. We had Saudi Arabia. If you remember the uproar in relation to Yemen. In one year, the maximum 300. Now without entering into discussing the accuracy of the numbers that were published by the de facto authorities in Gaza, what is clear is that we have had in a few weeks thousands of children killed. So this is what matters. We are witnessing a killing of civilians that is unparalleled and unprecedented in any conflict since I am Secretary-General.
Thank you very much.