| 26 February 2024, Monday |

‘Alarm bell’: U.N. chief, UK PM convene leaders on climate change

With fewer than six weeks until the United Nations General Assembly meets in Glasgow for a major climate summit, UN Secretary-General António Guterres and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will host a roundtable of world leaders on Monday to address big gaps in carbon targets and climate funding.

According to Selwin Hart, assistant secretary-general and special adviser to Guterres on climate action, the closed-door meeting on the sidelines of the annual high-level week of the United Nations General Assembly will include leaders from a few dozen countries representing industrialized nations, emerging economies, and vulnerable developing countries.

Last Monday, he told reporters, “The alarm bell needs to be rung.” “Countries, in general, are not on track to close these gaps in mitigation, finance, and adaptation.”

The roundtable discussion aims to secure a good end at the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, which runs from October 31 to November 12. Recent statistics suggest that major economies are falling behind on emission reduction goals and climate finance pledges.

Between 35 and 40 countries have confirmed they will join as of Friday, but Hart has refused to disclose them.

According to a United Nations estimate of country pledges under the Paris climate deal released on Friday, global emissions will be 16 percent higher in 2030 than they were in 2010, well short of the 45 percent reduction needed to avoid catastrophic climate change, according to scientists.

According to a report released on Friday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, rich countries are likely to have fallen short of their goal of contributing $100 billion to help developing countries deal with climate change last year, after increasing funding by less than 2% in 2019.

The U.N. expects to hear updates from some of the major economies on how they will strengthen their emission reduction targets and clarity around how to hit the $100 billion goal.

Guterres will also press donor countries and multilateral development banks to show progress toward meeting his goal to increase the share of finance dedicated to helping countries adapt to climate change to 50% from the current level of 21%, said Hart.

Hart said that current finance dedicated to adaptation is around $16.7 billion a year, a fraction of the current estimated adaptation costs of around $70 billion a year.

Johnson, host of the COP26, said at a meeting of the major economies on Friday that the world’s richest countries “must get serious about filling the $100 billion pot that the developing world needs in order to do its bit.”

Guterres told Reuters last week that the upcoming climate summit is at risk of failure.

“I believe that we are at risk of not having a success in COP26,” Guterres told Reuters in an interview at U.N. headquarters in New York on Wednesday. “There is still a level of mistrust, between north and south, developed and developing countries, that needs to be overcome.”

  • Reuters