UN chief calls for commitments ahead of Glasgow climate conference

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UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for more commitments from countries ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in November, also known as COP26.

There is just one month to go before COP26 -- the most important climate conference since the Paris Agreement. It is essential for all humanity to fulfill the promise of the Paris Agreement, he told a ministerial meeting in Milan, Italy, via a video link.

That means reducing emissions to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels. It means providing 100 billion U.S. dollars each year to the developing world for climate action. And it means balancing financial support for mitigation and adaptation, he said. "We are not there yet."

On mitigation, current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) will lead to a catastrophic 2.7 degrees global temperature rise, he noted.

"We need more ambition, now. I commend those nations, especially vulnerable developing countries, that have come forward with more ambitious NDCs despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. But we can only meet the 1.5-degree goal if all G20 (Group of 20) countries, which are responsible for 80 percent of global emissions, pledge more decisive action in new or updated NDCs," said Guterres.

"The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in the light of national circumstances is a pillar of the Paris Agreement. But all leaders must recognize that we are in the middle of a climate emergency. Developed economies need to take the lead. But all have a crucial role to play. I am also asking emerging economies to take the extra step and deliver more emissions cuts. We are all in the same boat, and we have to pull together."

Irreversible climate tipping points lie alarmingly close. Civil society is watching closely and is running out of patience, he warned.

The single most effective step to limit temperature rise is phasing out coal, beginning with no new coal power plants, he said.

"I welcome the most recent announcement by China on ending international financing of coal power. I now ask private finance, from commercial banks to asset managers, including many in the United States, Europe, and Asia-Pacific, to quickly follow suit and stop financing coal. And I ask that coalitions of governments and public and private finance institutions unite to scale up existing financial mechanisms to retire coal and fund a just transition toward universal access to renewable energy."

On climate finance, developed countries have a responsibility to increase their individual pledges and honor their collective commitment to deliver the promised 100 billion dollars a year for developing countries. This is an essential question of trust, he said.

Adaptation to climate change remains the neglected half of the climate equation, accounting for only 25 percent of climate finance in support of developing countries. Even worse, adaptation represents only 0.1 percent of private funding, said Guterres.

"So, today, I repeat my call to donors and multilateral development banks to allocate at least 50 percent of their climate support toward adaptation and resilience."

Adaptation needs are increasing every year. Developing countries already need 70 billion dollars for adaptation, and that figure could more than quadruple to 300 billion dollars a year by 2030. Failure to deliver means massive loss of lives and livelihoods, he said.

"Let us rebuild the trust that is needed to make COP26 a success for everyone," he said. "We have immense power. We can either save our world or condemn humanity to a hellish future. We must take the long view and the moral high ground so that this and future generations can look forward to peace, opportunity and dignity for all on a healthy planet," Guterres said. Enditem

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