UN chief urges world leaders to bring “concrete, realistic plans” to climate summit

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met with young climate activists in New York at the first ever Youth Climate Summit on Saturday./ UN Photo

The United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guteres has called upon world leaders to bring “concrete, realistic plans” to the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 in New York on Monday.

Guterres wants them to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050.

“I want to hear about how we are going to stop the increase in emissions by 2020, and dramatically reduce emissions to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century,” Guterres said.

The Summit will bring together governments, the private sector, civil society, local authorities and other international organizations to develop ambitious solutions in six areas: a global transition to renewable energy; sustainable and resilient infrastructures and cities; sustainable agriculture and management of forests and oceans; resilience and adaptation to climate impacts; and alignment of public and private finance with a net zero economy.

The UN says that the world is already witnessing life-threatening impacts of climate change, including air pollution, extreme weather adversities, and risks to food security.

The agency says the existing Paris Agreement sets out exactly what needs to be done to stop climate disruption and reverse its impact, though the deal itself is meaningless without ambitious action.

The Climate Action Summit has however been hit by a setback as some world leaders announced they will not be attending. These include US President Donald Trump, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Ahead the Monday meeting, Guterres met with young climate activists in New York at the first ever Youth Climate Summit. He expressed his admiration for their role in pushing world leaders to take more action to prevent climate change.

“I encourage you to go on, I encourage you to keep your initiative, keep your mobilization, and more and more to hold my generation accountable. My generation has largely failed until now to preserve both justice in the world and to preserve the planet,” he told them.