UN Secretary-General: Climate hopes 'unfulfilled but not buried'

31 October 2021, 18:30

The UN Secretary-General made the comments ahead of the COP26 summit in Glasgow.
The UN Secretary-General made the comments ahead of the COP26 summit in Glasgow. Picture: Alamy

By Elizabeth Haigh

The UN Secretary-General gave his verdict on G20 climate agreements, saying: "I leave Rome with my hopes unfulfilled, but at least they are not buried."

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Antonio Guterres tweeted the comments after the end of the G20 conference in Rome, where members agreed to stop financing international coal plants but did not set a date for their economies to become carbon neutral.

He added: "Onwards to #Cop26 in Glasgow to keep the goal of 1.5 degrees alive and to implement promises on finance and adaptation for people & planet."

Mr Guterres earlier told the G20 "greater ambition" is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to keep the goal of holding the global average temperature from increasing than more by 1.5C by the end of the century.

Read more: 'Cop26 is the last hope to save our precious planet' as UK takes centre stage

The G20 acknowledged that effects of the climate crisis are "much lower" with an increase of 1.5C but also reiterated the goals of the 2015 Paris climate accords, which calls for keeping the increase "well under" 2C while "pursuing efforts" to achieve the 1.5 degree limit.

Mr Guterres later tweeted that carbon-producing fuels are a "death sentence".

"All countries need to realize that the old, carbon-burning model of development is a death sentence for their economies and our planet.

"We need decarbonization now, across every sector in every country."

Read more: PM warns of climate crisis: 'If Glasgow fails, the whole thing fails'

The UN's scientific committee has underlined that the disruption from climate change effects such as rising seas and extreme weather are much less at 1.5C than at 2C.

It comes after UK PM Boris Johnson gave a stark warning in a press conference about climate change, when he said: "If Glasgow fails, the whole thing fails."

He said the international community "must be honest" about the fact that the world is currently not on track to meet the 1.5C target.