UN Climate Change News, 11 January 2021 - In a virtual address today at the ‘One Planet Summit’ for biodiversity hosted by the French government in cooperation with the United Nations and the World Bank, UN Secretary-General António Guterres declared 2021 as “the year to reconcile humanity with nature.”
He highlighted both the need to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and to provide adequate finance to adapt to the impacts of climate change, which include more frequent and more severe incidents of drought, flooding and fires.
While we have been abusing our planet as if we had a spare one, he said, ‘nature is striking back’, with record-high temperatures and collapsing biodiversity. Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, however, provides an opportunity to change course: “With smart policies and the right investments, we can chart a path that brings health to all, revives economies, builds resilience and rescues biodiversity,” he said, citing nature-based solutions such as Africa’s Great Green Wall as being especially promising.
The Sahel region's Great Green Wall Initiative received a major boost from the African Development Bank on the day of the One Planet Summit, with the bank pledging to assist in mobilising up to $6.5 billion over five years to advance the landmark initiative.
Main Goal of UN in 2021 Is Coalition for Carbon Neutrality
The main goal of the United Nations in 2021, Mr. Guterres said, is to build a truly global coalition for carbon neutrality. He spoke of a new momentum emerging, with many large emitters already having committed to achieving zero net emissions by mid-century, adding that every country, city and business must adopt an ambitious roadmap to achieve the same goal.
The time has come, he said, to ‘shift the fiscal burden from taxpayers to polluters and to align public and private financial flows with the Paris Agreement commitments and the Sustainable Development Goals.’
The UN chief underscored the urgent need to address the lack of adequate funding to help the most vulnerable adapt to the effects of climate change, with adaptation efforts currently accounting for only 20% of climate finance, and only 14% of climate finance dedicated to the least developed countries.
This was far from enough, he said, ‘especially to protect small island States, which face an existential threat’, adding that this year’s UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, taking place in Glasgow in November ‘cannot be another missed opportunity.’
The need for climate action has clearly now become a top priority for the world’s people. Speaking in London yesterday during a virtual event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the first meeting of the UN General Assembly, Mr. Guterres spoke of a global survey conducted by the UN last year where more than 1.5 million people in 195 countries shared their short- and long-term priorities. The survey report showed that respondents in all regions identified climate change and environmental issues as the number one long-term global challenge.
Editor: Liu Shuqiao