United Nations Secretary General António Guterrres is laying down a two-week deadline for countries to sketch out their plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, ahead of formal announcements at the climate summit he’s scheduled to host in New York City September 23.
In a letter over the weekend, excerpts of which were viewed by Climate Home News, Guterres asked every head of state to submit “a brief summary or an indication of the plans” they expect to release at the New York summit by August 7, Climate Home reports. The missive follows a preparatory meeting in Abu Dhabi last month, where “sources said some confusion remained over the benchmark for participation,” the UK-based publication states.
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So Guterres said he had “asked all leaders to come to the Summit ready to announce the plans that they will set next year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for 2030 and to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.” While they’re in New York, “countries are expected to compete for the spotlight,” Climate Home notes, “with only the most ambitious and meaningful strategies being showcased on stage.”
Net zero is a target that only a few developed countries have full embraced, the story adds, though it’s an aspirational goal for some developing nations. Guterres asked countries to clarify the long-term strategies they plan to submit to the UN climate secretary by the end of 2020, language that signals “a more inclusive framework that allows for varying rates of ambition and is also being pursued in Beijing,” Climate Home explains.
Earlier in the month, Angel Gurria, secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), called for “a big fat price on carbon” and an end to fossil fuel subsidies, Reuters reports. He called out a half-dozen countries including Canada for a deepening climate crisis, and warned that “green political muscle” will force governments to pay a price at the ballot box if they don’t amp up their climate response.
With angry youth demanding change, and the cost of climate solutions “falling like a stone”, Gurria cited Europe’s parliamentary elections last May as evidence that “it’s going to blow up in our faces” if sitting governments delay climate action.
“The Greens…we have seen how important they are,” he said. “They are not only demonstrating that they are showing a rising tide of awareness but they are also showing political muscle. And that is the price the politicians will pay if they do not heed the call.”
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