UN secretary-general's Acceleration Agenda set audacious benchmarks, urging developed countries to attain net-zero emissions as close to 2040 as possible, with emerging economies close to 2050
United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres sounded a clarion call for urgent climate action during the launch of the Climate Ambition Summit on Wednesday, emphasising the need to expedite the transition from fossil fuels to renewables.
Guterres' "non-nonsense summit" comes at a time when the world is reeling under the devastating impacts of climate change and probably the hottest year on record.
However, notable leaders from some of the world's largest polluting nations are conspicuously absent from the summit Guterres called to reinvigorate efforts to combat the climate crisis.
A list of 41 speakers put out by the UN for the morning session lacked representatives from China, the US, the UK or Japan.
Prominent nations addressing the summit include Austria, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, the European Union, France, Germany, Pakistan, and South Africa.
In his impassioned speech, the UN secretary-general lamented the precious time lost due to foot-dragging, arm-twisting, and the relentless greed of fossil fuel giants who continue to profit from the planet's peril.
He demanded that major emitters, who have disproportionately benefited from fossil fuels, take extra measures to slash emissions and rich nations lend their unwavering support to emerging economies in their climate action.
Guterres' Acceleration Agenda set audacious benchmarks, urging developed countries to attain net-zero emissions as close to 2040 as possible, with emerging economies following suit by striving for net-zero emissions as close to 2050 as possible.
The secretary-general underscored the urgency of a fair, equitable, and just energy transition, which entails OECD countries exiting coal by 2030 and the rest of the world doing so by 2040.
He pulled no punches in insisting on the immediate cessation of fossil fuel subsidies, which astonishingly ballooned to $7 trillion in 2022, and the adoption of ambitious renewable energy targets in alignment with the 1.5-degree Celsius limit.
In his address, Guterres championed the cause of climate justice, empathising with the world's most impoverished nations who bear the brunt of a crisis they played no part in creating.
He called for a restoration of trust and implored governments to steer the global financial apparatus toward championing climate action.
His roadmap for progress encompasses pricing carbon, overhauling the operating models of multilateral development banks to attract private finance for developing nations, and the full operationalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund at COP28.
Guterres pressed developed countries to fulfil their $100 billion per year pledge to help developing countries implement their climate goals, replenish the Green Climate Fund, and double adaptation funding.
He also stressed the imperative of implementing a comprehensive early warning system worldwide by 2027.
A resolute Guterres urged businesses and financial institutions to walk the talk on genuine net-zero pathways, reprimanding disingenuous commitments and the obstructive tactics of certain corporations.