The Strategist

Guterres: Countries' climate commitments do not meet their pledges yet

11/01/2021 - 02:42

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, speaking ahead of the opening of the conference, called on OECD countries to withdraw from coal power by 2030 and all other countries by 2040, ending public, private and international investments in coal.

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A few days before the summit, documents were released in which representatives from Saudi Arabia, Japan and Australia asked the UN not to force a rapid transition away from fossil fuels and not to call for an end to coal energy investments. Against this backdrop, Boris Johnson has already announced that meeting COP26 targets - for higher emissions reduction targets and sufficient fundraising to help developing countries - may be "very difficult", while the US President's Special Representative on Climate Change, John Kerry, said it was likely that the announced emissions reduction targets would also fall short after the summit.

Representatives of the G20 countries (responsible for 80% of global emissions) also adopted a statement after the meeting, which ended yesterday in Rome, on the need for "focused and effective action" to reach the 1.5°C target - with no further specific commitments. The statement also includes a pledge to end international financing for coal-fired generation by the end of the year, but does not mention specific plans for exiting coal power in general.

Addressing the UN climate conference, Pope Francis said the necessary changes represented a "gigantic cultural challenge" for humanity. He said the priority for the future development of countries must be given to the "common good", which requires a change in "perspective, point of view, the way we think and act".