UN Climate Change News, 16 June 2020 – At the 20th UN Global Compact Leaders Summit, which took place on the 15th and 16th of June, thousands of leaders from government, civil society and the United Nations discussed how business can support countries and communities around the world to recover better, recover stronger and recover together from three global crises – health, inequality and climate.
UN Climate Change Chief Patricia Espinosa and the Climate Champions of COP 25 and COP 26, Gonzalo Muñoz and Nigel Topping, took part in discussions on the climate crisis during the summit, which marked the 20th anniversary of the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative.
In her closing remarks, Ms. Espinosa underlined the importance of partnerships between governments, businesses and other non-State actors to fulfill the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement in the spirit of “inclusive multilateralism.”
While acknowledging the challenges posed by COVID-19, Ms. Espinosa stressed that the climate emergency remains and demands an urgent response:
“We cannot simply put the climate emergency on hold. The world has lost the luxury of time. We must act while we still can to avoid the tragedy that runaway environmental degradation will cause.”
In this crucial year for climate ambition, she said that state and non-state actors alike will have to significantly boost their ambition to tackle the climate crisis and highlighted some recent initiatives that have been undertaken to drive this forward.
One of these initiatives is the series of online events organized by UN Climate Change that took place during the first 10 days of this month. Referred to as “June Momentum,” it provided an opportunity for Parties and other stakeholders to continue exchanging views and sharing information so they can maintain progress in the UN Climate Change process.
A further significant initiative cited by Ms. Espinosa is the Race to Zero Campaign announced last week which aims to mobilize leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions and investors to help create a healthy, resilient and zero-emissions recovery:
“It’s gratifying to see members demonstrate how they’re already in the race to zero, setting interim targets in 2025 and 2030,” she said.
However, with all eyes on climate neutrality by 2050, she pointed out that we can’t get to 2050 without meeting our outstanding commitments for 2020:
“If we meet all our 2020 goals, and if the Race to Zero Campaign is as productive as I am sure it will be, then I am convinced that together we can indeed help flatten the climate curve, plan a cleaner, safer, healthier future, and build a more sustainable and resilient tomorrow for all people.”
See full speech below.
I begin by thanking all of you for sharing your expertise and views on this topic throughout the last two days.
UN Climate Change has long recognized the need for businesses—and other non-State actors—to join with governments to fulfill the Paris Agreement and achieve a 1.5-degree future. This is a key part of what we call inclusive multilateralism.
And it’s a key part of our recent Race-To-Zero campaign which I will address in a moment.
We all recognize that COVID-19 is humanity’s most significant and pressing challenge right now. And certainly, from a climate perspective, the virus has opened the eyes of the world to what a global crisis truly looks like.
As we respond to COVID’s demands for urgent and immediate action, we cannot forget that the climate emergency still remains and also demands an urgent response.
The planet continues to warm, oceans continue to acidify, sea levels continue to rise, and extreme weather continues to threaten the lives and livelihoods of people throughout the world.
And while nations have made limited progress with their climate commitments they are not nearly enough—as we are used to saying these days—to flatten the curve.
We knew this would be a vital year for climate change back in January. We faced a daunting agenda and strict deadlines.
Despite COVID-19, that work remains. We cannot simply put the climate emergency on hold. The world has lost the luxury of time.
In 2020, it is imperative that:
• Nations complete their unfinished work from COP25.
• They fulfill their commitments under the Paris Agreement.
• They must submit their new or revised NDCs that are due only once every five years—this cycle being perhaps the last opportunity before the window of opportunity to effectively address climate change closes.
• And state and non-state actors alike must significantly boost their climate ambition.
To help in that process we have undertaken a number of new initiatives during these unprecedented
For example, we launched a series of online events during the first 10 days of this month—referred to as June
These offered an opportunity for Parties and other stakeholders to continue exchanging views and sharing information so they can maintain progress in the UNFCCC process.
In a similar vein, the Race to Zero Campaign was also announced last week.
Its purpose is to mobilize leadership and support—from businesses, cities, regions, and investors—who, in turn, will help create a healthy, resilient, and zero-emissions recovery…a recovery that creates jobs, unlocks inclusive sustainable growth, and reduces the risk of future shocks.
The campaign brings together a remarkable coalition of net-zero emissions initiatives. It’s gratifying to see members demonstrate how they’re already in the race to zero, by setting interim targets in 2025 and 2030.
I also welcome the efforts of the Science Based Targets Initiative which calls on companies to commit to ambitious emissions reduction targets. By setting a science-based target in line with a 1.5°C future, businesses can make their critical and necessary contribution to limiting the worst impacts of climate change.
Ladies and gentlemen, while we had little advance warning of COVID-19, we have had years of warning about climate change. We must act while we still can to avoid the tragedy that runaway environmental degradation will cause.
Although the task ahead is daunting, I remain hopeful.
If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that societies can, when necessary, pull together to address a global challenge with bold responses.
The key to success will be to implement partnerships that embrace the notion of inclusive multilateralism, a term I am proud to say was coined by us at the UNFCCC.
It is only through open partnerships with all segments of society that we can begin to really come to grips with the various crises unfolding before our eyes
And as I talk about the need for pulling together—about being inclusive – I would be remiss if I did not mention the world-wide public outcry over the killing of Mr. George Floyd in the United States. It has set off a global and justifiable demand for an end to institutional racism AND exclusion.
We at the United Nations have not been immune to racism’s insidious impact within our own institutions. We must all reflect and act upon the values of solidarity, equality and diversity that should always guide our work.
As for progress on our climate change crisis, the bottom line is this: we cannot get to 2050 without meeting our outstanding commitments for 2020.
And we cannot get to 2050 without following the blueprints for recovery through the Paris Agreement, including the implementation of improved NDCs.
Failure is simply not an option.
But I am an optimist at heart. I believe a brighter and greener future is possible.
The best of 2020 is still ahead of us. More than six months remain in this critical year for climate change. Let’s collectively take advantage of that time.
If we meet all our 2020 goals, and if the Race to Zero Campaign is as productive as I am sure it will be, then I am convinced that together we can indeed help flatten the climate curve, plan a cleaner, safer, healthier future, and build a more sustainable and resilient tomorrow for all people.