I have seen many scientific reports in my time, but nothing like this.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership.
With fact upon fact, this report reveals how people and the planet are getting clobbered by climate change.
Nearly half of humanity is living in the danger zone – now.
Many ecosystems are at the point of no return – now.
Unchecked carbon pollution is forcing the world’s most vulnerable on a frog march to destruction – now.
The facts are undeniable. This abdication of leadership is criminal.
The world’s biggest polluters are guilty of arson of our only home.
It is essential to meet the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. Science tells us that will require the world to cut emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
But according to current commitments, global emissions are set to increase almost 14 percent over the current decade. That spells catastrophe.
It will destroy any chance of keeping 1.5 alive.
Today’s report underscores two core truths. First, coal and other fossil fuels are choking humanity.
All G20 governments have agreed to stop funding coal abroad. They must now urgently do the same at home and dismantle their coal fleets.
Those in the private sector still financing coal must be held to account. Oil and gas giants — and their underwriters – are also on notice.
You cannot claim to be green while your plans and projects undermine the 2050 net-zero target and ignore the major emissions cuts that must occur this decade.
People see through this smokescreen.
OECD countries must phase out coal by 2030, and all others by 2040.
The present global energy mix is broken.
As current events make all too clear, our continued reliance on fossil fuels makes the global economy and energy security vulnerable to geopolitical shocks and crises.
Instead of slowing down the decarbonization of the global economy, now is the time to accelerate the energy transition to a renewable energy future.
Fossil fuels are a dead end – for our planet, for humanity and, yes, for economies.
A prompt, well-managed transition to renewables is the only pathway to energy security, universal access and the green jobs our world needs.
I am calling for developed countries, multilateral development banks, private financiers and others to form coalitions to help major emerging economies end the use of coal.
These targeted mechanisms of support would be over and above existing sustainable development needs.
The second core finding from this report is slightly better news: investments in adaptation work.
Adaptation saves lives.
As climate impacts worsen – and they will – scaling up investments will be essential for survival.
Adaptation and mitigation must be pursued with equal force and urgency.
That’s why I have been pushing to get to 50 percent of all climate finance for adaptation.
The Glasgow commitment on adaptation funding is clearly not enough to meet the challenges faced by nations on the front lines of the climate crisis.
I’m also pressing to remove the obstacles that prevent small island states and least developed countries from getting the finance they desperately need to save lives and livelihoods.
We need new eligibility systems to deal with this new reality.
Delay means death.
I take inspiration from all those on the front lines of the climate battle fighting back with solutions.
All development banks – multilateral, regional, national – know what needs to be done: work with governments to design pipelines of bankable adaptation projects and help them find the funding, public and private.
And every country must honor the Glasgow pledge to strengthen national climate plans every year until they are aligned with 1.5C.
The G20 must lead the way, or humanity will pay an even more tragic price.
I know people everywhere are anxious and angry. I am, too.
Now is the time to turn rage into action. Every fraction of a degree matters.
Every voice can make a difference. And every second counts.
• António Guterres is the secretary-general of the United Nations.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Guterres’ statement was made in February 2022 after the release of the IPCC’s report, “Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability”.