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12 October 2021

‘Genuinely Concerned’ over Slow Progress on Climate Priorities, Secretary-General Calls upon Finance Ministers to Show Leadership, Weeks before Glasgow Meeting

Following is the text of UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ video remarks to the sixth ministerial meeting of the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action, held today:

COP26 [twenty-sixth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] must be a turning point if we are to fulfil the promise of the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, protect populations from the impacts of climate change and ensure that all financial flows are consistent with the goals of net‑zero emissions and sustainable development.

But, with COP26 fast approaching, I remain genuinely concerned over the lack of progress on these priorities.  Allow me to make a few concrete proposals that could help us deliver significant progress at COP26.

The political package that must be delivered in Glasgow needs to contain at least three key elements:  First, we must swiftly close the emissions gap.  That means national pledges must collectively put us on track to reduce emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 compared to 2010 levels.  And each country must be ready to update its climate commitments until we collectively get on track to reach the 1.5°C objective.

Second, developed countries must close the finance gap by providing and exceeding the promised $100 billion a year to developing countries for climate action.  And this is just a starting point.  Beyond that goal, all financial flows — public and private — must align with a net-zero and resilient development pathway.  Increasingly, we see the private sector moving through initiatives such as the Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance.  Governments must follow.  That is why I call on each of you as Ministers for Finance to take decisive steps to make climate risk disclosures mandatory in line with the recommendations of the Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures.

Third, Glasgow must deliver a breakthrough on adaptation.  Climate disruption is already here, affecting ever more lives and livelihoods every year, especially among the most vulnerable.  Building resilience and adapting must be a priority for all.  I ask each of you in your national capacity and as shareholders of national and multilateral development banks to consider allocating half of all public climate finance in support of developing countries for adaptation.

And I ask that you reconsider how you calculate gross domestic product (GDP).  Nature’s resources still do not figure in countries’ calculations of wealth.  We need nature-based solutions for adaptation and mitigation.  The current system is weighted towards destruction, not preservation.  Governments must reflect nature’s true value in all policies, plans and economic systems.

As Ministers for Finance, you hold the key to success for COP26 and beyond.  For instance, urgently improving access to climate and development finance will be key to rebuild trust among parties.  Your representatives at the boards of multilateral development banks could request management to present as soon as possible a set of concrete measures, implementable by the end of next year at the latest, to address red‑tape issues and improve the speed and efficiency of systems and processes in all development finance institutions.

Similarly, the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change pose new and unique challenges to low- and middle-income countries.  In this context, it is only logical to revise eligibility thresholds for official development assistance (ODA) to improve access to finance.

I ask you to instruct your representatives at the Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development (OECD) to initiate this review process for ODA eligibility for low- and middle-income countries.  And I ask you to support the development of the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index as the instrument to ease the small island developing States’ access to finance.

Your decisions and actions in the coming weeks will determine whether the global economic recovery will be low-carbon, resilient and inclusive, or whether it will lock in fossil fuel-intensive investments with high risks of stranded assets.

Similarly, your decisions will determine whether the COVID-19 recovery is shared and inclusive, or whether only a handful of rich economies will benefit, while the developing world remains crippled by unsustainable debt.  The challenge before us is epic.  We cannot afford to fail.  The world needs your leadership.

For information media. Not an official record.