UN DSG: Keep goal of 1.5°C alive by closing climate finance, mitigation gaps with urgent, robust action

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s closing remarks, as prepared for delivery, to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting’s Climate Change Side Event “Keeping 1.5 Alive — the Glasgow Climate Pact and Building Momentum towards the twenty-seventh Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change”, in Kigali today:

We are at the mid-point between the twenty-sixth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) and COP27. The Glasgow Climate Pact, the main outcome of COP26, laid bare huge gaps on mitigation, on finance and on adaptation as well as the actions that needed to be taken over the course of the coming years to close these gaps through just transitions. Let us be frank, almost sixth months after Glasgow, we are off track. Today we have heard that there is political will behind the Glasgow Climate Pact, and renewed commitment to deliver the Paris Agreement.  But, this intent is not translating into action.

Last year, global emissions were at their highest level ever. The nationally determined contributions submitted last year would result in an increase in global emissions of 14% by 2030.

Science tells us that, for us to be on a credible pathway to limit global average temperature rise to 1.5°C, global emissions need to decline by 45% below 2010 levels by 2030.

The battle to keep the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement alive and prevent the worst impacts of the climate crisis will be won or lost this decade. With each passing day of inaction, the pulse of the 1.5°C goal gets weaker and weaker.

At Glasgow, all countries agreed to revise and strengthen their nationally determined contributions.  Group of 20 (G20) nations account for 80% of global emissions. Their leadership is needed more than ever to bend the global emissions curve towards 1.5°C. Thanks to the COP26 President Alok Sharma for the continued leadership.

On finance, the $100 billion commitment made over a decade ago remains unmet, and the trillions needed to ensure a low-carbon, climate-resilient future are yet to be mobilised.

Developing countries continue to face extraordinary barriers to accessing the finance they need, particularly to protect themselves from the worst impacts of climate change which are happening now.

This story plays out against a devastating backdrop. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, at 1.5°C of warming, people living in Central and South America, most of Africa, small island developing States and South Asia, are 15 times more likely to die from a climate impact. The recent climate discussions in Bonn did not reflect the reality of this emergency.

We have six months to Sharm el-Sheikh. The window to demonstrate that the countries are taking serious steps, as agreed in Glasgow, has not yet closed. We still have hope that it can be done.

This means countries bringing forwards new and enhanced nationally determined contributions, underpinned by concrete policies.  Especially from those that have not yet done so, and those major emitters that are not yet on a 1.5°C pathway. We need to go a step further. And this is why the Secretary-General has called for coalitions of support around key emerging economies to accelerate the transition away from coal.

It means donors providing clarity on when and how the $100 billion promise will be met, as well as providing the road map for the doubling of adaptation finance. It is a handshake that is not only fair but that will also help address the trust deficit. It also means multilateral developing banks playing their part in mobilising the trillions of needed private finance. We need to see concrete progress towards reforming rules around eligibility and burdensome access criteria that many developing countries face.

Local solutions need to be supported. Loss and damage needs to be seriously addressed. Youth need to be taken seriously and meaningfully engaged.  We must keep focused on protecting the most vulnerable.

This is why the Secretary-General has called for 100% coverage of early warning systems over the next five years.

One out of every three persons in world is not covered by an early warning system. These persons are predominately in least developed countries and small island developing States. This is unacceptable when we know we have the technology and the tools to achieve this.

Multilateralism is under strain, yet the Commonwealth has the potential to lead the way and provide a model for cooperation. You are a diverse group of countries, spanning many regions of the world, languages, religions and cultures. You include major economies, both developed and developing. You include those already suffering from the impacts of climate in action. And you unite around common values.

So, today, I end with this appeal to you, Commonwealth leaders. Let us not step back from our commitments and revert to the lowest common denominator.  We must close the gaps on mitigation, adaptation, finance and on loss and damage with urgency and ambition.

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