UN: bring Net Zero forward a decade

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has made its Synthesis Report, with a note of optimism, stating that there are multiple, feasible and effective options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to human-caused climate change.

However, it also believes that faster action is required and that at the current rate key global temperature goals will likely be missed. In response to the findings, UN secretary general Antonio Guterres responded to the report by saying that all countries should bring forward their net-zero plans by a decade.

Whilst there is sufficient global capital to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions if existing barriers are reduced, governments, through public funding and clear signals to investors, are key in reducing these barriers. The UN rather pointed noted that governments had previously agreed to act to avoid global temperature rise going above 1.5C, but the world has already warmed by 1.1C and now say that it is likely to breach 1.5C in the 2030s.

Guterres called on governments to tackle the “time bomb” through the Climate Solidarity Pact that the UN has proposed to the G20 in which all big emitters make extra efforts to cut emissions and wealthier countries mobilise financial and technical resources to support emerging economies in a common effort to keep the goal of 1.5C alive.

Further he has presented a plan to “super-charge” efforts to achieve this Climate Solidarity Pact through an “all-hands-on-deck” Acceleration Agenda, starting with accelerating the net-zero deadlines to get to global net-zero by 2050, in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances. Specifically, he asked that developed countries commit to reaching net-zero as close as possible to 2040, the limit they should all aim to respect.

The Acceleration Agenda calls for a number of other actions including that there be no new coal; the phasing out of coal by 2030 in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries and 2040 in all other countries; ensuring net-zero electricity generation by 2035 for all developed countries and 2040 for the rest of the world; ceasing all licensing or funding of new oil and gas and shifting subsidies from fossil fuels to a “just” energy transition.

Returning to the finance of such a change, Guterres called on CEOs of all oil and gas companies to be part of the solution and prepare detailed transition plans, banks provide more grants and concessional loans and that there is a full mobilisation of private finance.

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