Bold Plans, Faster Action Key to Cutting Greenhouse Emissions 45 per-cent by 2030
Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohamed’s opening remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Flagship Climate Progress event, in New York on 18 September:
We meet on 18 September to raise the curtain on climate action ahead of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit.
On Monday, 23 September, five days from now, leaders from around the world will converge in New York to deliberate their plans to enhance climate pledges under the Paris Agreement.
We know why tackling climate change is important. The devastation wreaked by Dorian on the Bahamas, what the Secretary-General called a Category Hell hurricane, is a glimpse into one aspect of a future powered by climate change –1 a future with superstorms that grow in intensity and frequency, where those countries with the lowest greenhouse-gas emissions continue to feel the worst impacts of the planet’s rising temperatures.
When I look back on this Climate Action Summit, I want us to see it as a sling-shot that helped to change our common trajectory towards sustainability; where we built trust between this generation of adults and the next — between our children and ourselves — that we are all working together to our fullest potential to tackle the climate emergency.
To get there, we need to start with facts: What does science tell us? Are countries taking enough action?
We know the answer to the first question. The science is very clear. As reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we must ensure that the global temperature rise does not go beyond 1.5°C. This requires cutting emissions by 45 per cent by 2030, and we have very little time to take the decisions needed to get there.
Those decisions should be set out in each country’s nationally determined contribution on climate change which, taken together, should deliver the necessary emission cuts and plot the transformation of economies towards a safe, green and just future. These nationally determined contributions are, therefore, the cornerstone of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The answer to the second question — whether countries are responding to the science — was not as clear, until today.
The new United Nations report we launch today, “The Heat Is On: Taking Stock of Global Climate Ambition”, developed in partnership by the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, provides the most comprehensive snapshot to date of whether the world is on track.
It will help us to understand whether world leaders address the Climate Action Summit on 23 September with “concrete plans, not speeches”, as is the Secretary-General’s call. And I hope it will encourage those countries who have not yet decided on their course of action — particularly the big-emitting countries — to be ambitious. Ambitious plans, accelerated action and mobilized societies. Each are crucial to ratcheting up the response to the climate crisis.
Ambition, because according to the report, with countries’ existing climate plans, greenhouse-gas emissions will rise by 10.7 per cent above 2016 levels by 2030, a number starkly at odds with the United Nations Secretary-General’s call for deep cuts. We must do more.
Acceleration, because, in 2020, countries have an opportunity to correct this trajectory — to submit new nationally determined contributions to stop the clock on climate change. As the Administrator of UNDP, Achim Steiner, will convey, the United Nations stands ready to provide support.
And mobilization, because this is not just about Governments. The action of every person in society will count to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. And every person must hold their leaders accountable.
As the Secretary-General has said about this Climate Action Summit, the race is on. It is a race we can win; it is a race we must win.
Thank you and we look forward to a most successful Summit on 23 September.