NEW YORK, USA – With nations striving to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating impacts, efforts must focus on decarbonizing the global economy and building a more inclusive and resilient future, the UN Secretary-General said on Monday.
Addressing the fourth ministerial meeting of the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action, via a video message, Secretary-General António Guterres urged greater leadership and vision.
“Your recovery plans will determine the course of the next 30 years”, he said. “We need speed, scale, and decisive leadership. I count on this coalition to rise to the challenge.”
The meeting brought together top officials from around the world to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on fiscal policies related to climate change.
‘Advocates for green recovery’
The secretary-general called on the ministers to serve as models and advocates for a green recovery, noting the need for governments to align COVID recovery and stimulus plans with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
“That means investing in green and decent jobs. Do not bail out polluting industries. End fossil-fuel subsidies. And take climate risks into account in all financial and policy decisions”, said Guterres, welcoming steps to embed climate goals into macroeconomic policies and recovery measures.
Alongside, the UN chief also called for sharp and permanent cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
“Coal should not be part of any recovery plans”, he stressed.
Carbon neutrality before 2050
Guterres also called on finance ministers to commit to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, and to submit more ambitious nationally determined contributions before the 26th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26), to be held in Glasgow in November 2021, after being postponed this year due to the pandemic.
“We need all of you, through your NDCs and Net Zero plans, to send a clear and unambiguous signal to markets that the decarbonization of the global economy is inevitable”, he added, referring to the Nationally Determined Contributions – what each country will do to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Guterres also called on the ministers, together with central banks and financial regulators to ensure that every financial decision takes climate risks and opportunities into account.
This includes improving the quality and quantity of climate-related financial disclosures, ensuring that the financial sector can measure and manage climate-related financial risks and creating approaches and frameworks for measuring portfolio alignment with the transition to net-zero, he explained.
Use your voice and vote
In his address, the secretary-general also underlined the importance of international cooperation and solidarity in recovery efforts.
Noting their important role in national, regional and multilateral development finance institutions as well as in shaping their strategic direction, Guterres called on the finance ministers to use their “voice and voting power” to ensure that by COP26, these institutions agree to align their policies, portfolios and pipelines with the 1.5-degree goal of the Paris Agreement.
“This will mean an end to new coal power plants and a phasing out of fossil fuel investments; more ambitious climate finance goals and targets; increased support for adaptation and resilience for the most vulnerable, and rapidly scaled up investments in renewable energy,” underlined Guterres.