UN Secretary-General António Guterres delivered a strongly worded speech during the Climate Ambition Summit, highlighting the dire state of climate action progress. He began by stating, "humanity has opened the gates of hell," underscoring the severe consequences of climate change. Guterres pointed out that the world is on a dangerous and unstable trajectory, with a projected temperature rise of 2.8 degrees Celsius if no significant changes are made.
The Secretary-General emphasized the urgency of the situation, saying, "Our focus here is on climate solutions – and our task is urgent." He highlighted the devastating effects of climate change, including floods destroying crops, disease outbreaks due to sweltering temperatures, and the displacement of thousands as historic wildfires rage. Guterres stressed that current climate action efforts fall short of addressing the monumental challenge at hand, ABC news reported
He set high expectations for world leaders attending the summit, calling on them to make substantial new climate pledges. Notably, major nations like the United States, the United Kingdom, and China did not participate in the summit, although California Governor Gavin Newsom was scheduled to speak.
Guterres voiced his concerns about the influence of fossil fuel interests and urged action, saying, "We must make up time lost to foot-dragging, arm-twisting and the naked greed of entrenched interests raking in billions from fossil fuels." He introduced the Climate Solidarity Pact, which calls on major emitters to take extra steps to reduce emissions and urges wealthy countries to support emerging economies in their efforts.
The UN Secretary-General also acknowledged the importance of climate activists, Indigenous Peoples, business executives, mayors, and governments who are taking significant steps to phase out fossil fuels. In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Guterres recognized his limited power within the UN Security Council but stressed the importance of his voice in rallying global action. He expressed concern about the unprecedented level of division among superpowers and the challenges of addressing climate change in this complex geopolitical landscape.
Despite his lack of direct authority, Guterres affirmed his commitment to using his voice to advocate for climate action, emphasizing the need for global cooperation to combat the climate crisis.