The 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 74) will spotlight climate change in the coming days when leaders gather at the UN headquarters in New York to discuss issues of common concern, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said.
“We will spotlight climate change, which threatens everyone and everything,” the UN chief told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday, Xinhua reported.
Recalling his recent trip to the Bahamas, Guterres said that “the level of devastation was unlike anything I have ever seen”.
“Hurricane Dorian was indeed Hurricane Hell. And, unfortunately, extreme weather events will only produce more hellscapes for more people,” he added.
“That is what science has been telling us all along,” he noted.
“The imperative to act could not be more clear, and this is exactly why I am convening the Climate Action Summit,” said the UN chief.
Guterres will host the 2019 Climate Action Summit to meet the climate challenge at the UN headquarters in New York on September 23.
Heads of state and government, high-level representatives from member states and representatives from the private sector, and teenage activist Greta Thunberg are expected to be in New York to tackle what the UN considers “the defining issue of our time.”
The Climate Action Summit will be preceded by a Youth Climate Summit on Saturday, where participants from across the globe will showcase their solutions on how to combat the crisis.
“I expect there will be an announcement and unveiling of a number of meaningful plans on dramatically reducing emissions during the next decade, and on reaching carbon neutrality by 2050,” the secretary-general told reporters.
“We will showcase promising initiatives aiming at moving away from coal, putting a price on carbon, stopping subsidies for fossil fuels, and cutting the pollution that damages our health,” he said.
“And we will highlight the importance of scaling up nature-based solutions, creating cleaner ways in the way we work and societies function, building resilience, protecting people, mobilizing finance and promoting decent jobs for a just transition,” the secretary-general added.
Noting the forthcoming summits and high-level meetings will be distilled into two words – ambition and action, the UN chief said that “I told leaders not to come with fancy speeches, but with concrete commitments.”
Citing the example that just Wednesday morning, the UN Development Programme announced the Climate Promise initiative to boost the commitment to support 100 countries in enhancing their national pledges under the Paris Agreement by 2020, the UN chief said that “the UN is already doing its part.”
“Also today – along with the International Labour Organization and partners Spain and Peru – we are launching the Climate Action for Jobs, an initiative to put job creation and protecting livelihoods at the centre of national climate action plans,” he added.
“Some 1.2 billion jobs or 40 per cent of world employment rely directly on a healthy and stable environment,” he said, noting that “business cannot succeed on a planet that fails. Jobs cannot be sustained on a dying planet.”
“And there are many more initiatives to come. They will all be presented at the summit and are designed to be expanded, so they can have the global impact the climate crisis demands,” he said.
“We will need government, businesses and people everywhere to join these efforts so we can put climate action into a higher gear,” said the secretary-general.