UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has highlighted the importance of long-term strategies towards carbon neutrality when speaking virtually to the European Council on Foreign Relations.
On Thursday, the UN chief stressed the need for “every country, city, financial institution and company” to adopt plans for transitioning to net zero emissions by 2050, reports Xinhua news agency.
He called for them to be ready before November 2021, when the next UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) is scheduled to be held in Scotland, and he highlighted the importance of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) required under the 2015 Paris Agreement and “long-term strategies towards carbon neutrality”.
Pointing to its “pioneering legislation and policies”, the UN chief hailed the 27-member European Union (EU) as “a leader on climate action”, which had shown that it was possible to cut emissions while achieving economic growth.
The Secretary-General applauded the bloc’s climate action, while emphasizing that “we are still nowhere near the finish line… and still running behind in the race against time”.
“I urge you to continue to lead with concrete and ambitious near-term commitments,” said the UN chief, advocating for EU members’ NDCs to reflect at least a 55 per cent emission reduction by 2030.
Noting that “the EU has been building solidarity with the most vulnerable countries around the world”, Guterres pointed out that the bloc’s proposals to speed up how it confronts inequality and protects those affected by the transition “can set a powerful example”.
“The EU has a crucial role in ensuring that developing countries in need have the necessary support to recover sustainably from Covid-19 and to enhance their own climate ambition – through assistance for mitigation, adaptation and resilience,” the Secretary-General added.
Heading towards the Climate Ambition Summit on December 12 and COP26 next year, the UN chief signalled that “the world will once again be looking to the European Union for climate leadership”.
“I urge the EU to seize these opportunities – and answer this call for people everywhere, for prosperity and for the planet we all share and depend on,” he said.