STATEMENT BY THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ON THE IPCC WORKING GROUP I REPORT ON THE PHYSICAL SCIENCE BASIS OF THE SIXTH ASSESSMENT
09 August 2021
Today’s IPCC Working Group 1 Report is a code red for humanity. The alarm
bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions from
fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of
people at immediate risk. Global heating is affecting every region on Earth, with
many of the changes becoming irreversible.
The internationally agreed threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius is perilously close.
We are at imminent risk of hitting 1.5 degrees in the near term. The only way to
prevent exceeding this threshold is by urgently stepping up our efforts, and
pursuing the most ambitious path.
We must act decisively now to keep 1.5 alive.
We are already at 1.2 degrees and rising. Warming has accelerated in recent
decades. Every fraction of a degree counts. Greenhouse gas concentrations are at
record levels. Extreme weather and climate disasters are increasing in frequency
and intensity. That is why this year’s United Nations climate conference in
Glasgow is so important.
The viability of our societies depends on leaders from government, business
and civil society uniting behind policies, actions and investments that will limit
temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We owe this to the entire human family,
especially the poorest and most vulnerable communities and nations that are the
hardest hit despite being least responsible for today’s climate emergency.
The solutions are clear. Inclusive and green economies, prosperity, cleaner air and
better health are possible for all if we respond to this crisis with solidarity and
courage. All nations, especially the G20 and other major emitters, need to join the
net zero emissions coalition and reinforce their commitments with credible,
concrete and enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions and policies before
COP26 in Glasgow.
We need immediate action on energy. Without deep carbon pollution cuts now, the
1.5-degree goal will fall quickly out of reach. This report must sound a death knell
for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet. There must be no new
coal plants built after 2021. OECD countries must phase out existing coal by
2030, with all others following suit by 2040. Countries should also end all new
fossil fuel exploration and production, and shift fossil fuel subsidies into
renewable energy. By 2030, solar and wind capacity should quadruple and
renewable energy investments should triple to maintain a net zero trajectory by
Climate impacts will undoubtedly worsen. There is a clear moral and economic
imperative to protect the lives and livelihoods of those on the front lines of the
climate crisis. Adaptation and resilience finance must cease being the neglected
half of the climate equation. Only 21 per cent of climate support is directed
towards adaptation. I again call on donors and the multilateral development
banks to allocate at least 50 per cent of all public climate finance to protecting
people, especially women and vulnerable groups. COVID-19 recovery spending
must be aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement. And the decade-old
promise to mobilize $100 billion annually to support mitigation and adaptation in
developing countries must be met.
The climate crisis poses enormous financial risk to investment managers, asset
owners, and businesses. These risks should be measured, disclosed and mitigated.
I am asking corporate leaders to support a minimum international carbon price and
align their portfolios with the Paris Agreement. The public and private sector must
work together to ensure a just and rapid transformation to a net zero global
If we combine forces now, we can avert climate catastrophe. But, as today’s report
makes clear, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses. I count on
government leaders and all stakeholders to ensure COP26 is a success.