Cop26: UN chief demands greater global effort as 'climate crisis closes in'

Guterres says net zero emissions must become ‘new normal'

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 08, 2020 United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press conference at the African Union headquarters during the 33rd African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on January 15, 2021 deplored the "heart-wrenching milestone" of the global death toll from Covid-19 topping two million, and lamented the fact that "solidarity is failing" in the world's response to the virus.
"Today we are seeing a vaccine vacuum," the UN head said. "Vaccines are reaching high income countries quickly, while the world's poorest have none at all."
 / AFP / MICHAEL TEWELDE

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on nations to increase efforts to tackle climate change before the Cop26 summit in Glasgow this year.

Mr Guterres told the UN that the world was way off the targets outlined in the Paris Agreement, which seek to keep the change in global temperatures to less than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

He also called for coal to be phased out in developed nations by 2030.

Signatories to the Paris Agreement must now present clear and credible plans to achieve net-zero emissions as “words are not enough”.

“This year, the drive to net zero must become the new normal for everyone everywhere, for every country as well as the key sectors such as aviation, shipping industry and agriculture,” Mr Guterres said.

“At the same time, all commitments to net zero must be underpinned by clear and credible plans to achieve them.”

The Cop26 summit is set to be held in Glasgow, Scotland in November.

But Mr Guterres said the usual schedule of meetings would be likely to take place online because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I cannot overestimate the importance of the negotiations in the months ahead,” he said.

“We simply cannot allow the pandemic to keep us from working together on the crucial pathway to Glasgow.

"Although there will be challenges, we must adapt. The stakes are too high to do otherwise. Everyone must be ready to make compromises.”

Alok Sharma, Britain’s Business Secretary and chairman of the Cop26 summit, was also at the Road to Glasgow online meeting.

Mr Sharma demanded greater leadership from international heads of state.

“Last year saw record temperatures, we saw fires raging across the world, we saw storms intensifying," he said.

"In short, our friends, that climate crisis is closing in. This year cannot simply be a repeat of the last.

Britain's Business Secretary Alok Sharma arrives at Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) in central London on September 22, 2020 to attend the weekly meeting of the cabinet.  The UK government will on Tuesday announce new measures to curb rising coronavirus cases across England, hours after upgrading the virus alert level with top advisers warning of a surging death toll within two months without immediate action. / AFP / POOL / Leon Neal

“We all know what is at stake if we do not work now to secure the right outcomes at Glasgow.

"Let me remind you we have 266 days to go to Cop26. Please let's work together, let's make sure that every one of those days counts.”