A common space for harmonic peacemakers
On the eve of COP26 in Glasgow, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “all roads to success go through Rome,” and stressed that there is a “serious risk that Glasgow will not deliver.”
Speaking to reporters in Rome today (29 Oct) Guterres said several recent climate announcements might leave the impression of a “rosier picture. Unfortunately, this is an illusion.”
The UN chief said current Nationally Determined Contributions, which are formal commitments by governments, still condemn the world to a calamitous 2.7 degree increase. He added that even if recent pledges were clear and credible — and there are serious questions about some of them — the world is still careening towards climate catastrophe, with the best-case scenario producing a temperature rise well above a disastrous two degrees.
Guterres stressed the need for more ambition and more action, adding that this requires trust with is in short supply. Guterres noted the dangerous levels of mistrust among the big powers and appeal to the G20 for decisive steps to bridge what he called the trust gap.
Guterres highlighted the vaccine inequality and said, “I have long been pushing the G20 to lead a global vaccination plan to reach everyone, everywhere. That plan did not materialize — largely because of geo-political divides.” He added, “Global coordinated action has taken a backseat to vaccine hoarding and vaccine nationalism. People in the richest countries are getting third doses of vaccine, while only five per cent of Africans are fully vaccinated.”
The Secretary-General also highlighted the vast disparity in resources for pandemic recovery which is eroding trust. He said, “The recovery is amplifying inequalities. This is immoral. The IMF recently issued 650 billion USD in Special Drawing Rights. But this support largely goes to the countries that need them least since the SDRs are distributed according to quotas — an injustice in itself. That’s why I have been calling for a substantial — not symbolic — re-allocation of unused SDRs to vulnerable countries that need them, including middle-income countries. The G20 has a key role to guarantee it.”
Guterres urged the G20 to extend the Debt Service Suspension Initiative into next year and make it available to highly indebted vulnerable, including middle-income countries that request it. He underscored that countries should not be forced to choose between servicing their debt or serving their people.
The UN chief said trust was also being undermined by a lack of climate ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance. He said concrete action was required now to reduce global emissions by 45 per cent by 2030, added that G20 countries have a particular responsibility to keep the 1.5 degree goal alive, as they represent around 80 per cent of emissions.
He said, “According to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in light of national circumstances, developed countries must lead the effort. But given the present situation, emerging economies, too, must go the extra mile to achieve effective global emissions reductions in this decade. We need maximum ambition, from all countries on all fronts.”
Guterres also called on donors to allocate at least half of their climate finance towards adaptation and resilience, adding that ambition on climate finance includes making good on the commitment to provide 100 billion USD each year to developing countries.
He welcomed efforts led by Canada and Germany to help achieve this, but said the first step delays the largest support for years, without clear guarantees.
He said, “Unfortunately, the message to developing countries is essentially this: The check is in the mail. On all our climate goals, we have miles to go. And we must pick up the pace. Scientists are clear on the facts. Leaders must be as clear in their actions. Glasgow can be a turning point towards a safer, greener world for our children and grandchildren. It is not too late. But we must act now.”
Guterres urged the G20 to show the solidarity that people want and the world desperately needs, which begins by rebuilding trust and credibility among their members.
Responding to questions, Guterres said the world would get nowhere if developed and developing countries blame each other. He said, “This is the moment for everyone to do the maximum - developed countries must do more and the emerging economies must also do more instead of creating a scenario of blaming each other. That is why this G20 is an opportunity to rebuild trust and for all to do their best.”