Opening speech by COP President Alok Sharma at the UN High-Level Political Forum on keeping climate on the UN agenda and the 2020s being a critical decade for climate action
It is a real joy to be here with you today.
The UK helped organize a productive conversation on pandemic recovery that was inclusive and green, as well as effective climate adaptation, when we met last year.
Today is another crucial turning point.
Yes, a lot has changed in the last 12 months.
We meet in the context of many global crises, many of which were triggered by the illegal, cruel and unwarranted invasion of Ukraine by Putin’s dictatorship.
And many people now understand how energy and national security are intertwined with climate change and environmental security.
And while nations must meet their urgent energy demands, many have realized that fossil fuels are not our common long-term energy future.
The fundamental tenet of last year’s session, that we must ensure a fair and sustainable recovery, remains true even as we overcome the current difficulties.
Because the chronic threat posed by climate change is undeniably worsening and the global economic situation is also precarious.
Now that the UK is leading the charge in the fight against global warming, I couldn’t be happier.
Furthermore, a significant shift in infrastructure investment was made in the pursuit of clean and green growth at the G7 summit held in Carbis Bay last year.
Through our British Investment Partnerships and the Clean Green Initiative, we have maintained our position as a global leader by mobilizing billions of dollars and our financial know-how to promote clean growth.
And it was a huge honor for me to push this agenda forward as President of COP26.
The Glasgow Climate Pact, which was created by around 200 nations, was significant.
Moreover, in light of the promises made in this pact and outside the negotiating rooms,
I think we can legitimately say that we have preserved the possibility of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels and that we have helped the most vulnerable.
Important mitigation-related pledges were made, including asking nations to review and improve their NDCs by the end of the year.
The work program for Glasgow Sharm el Sheikh underscored the importance of all nations being ready and responding to climate concerns.
In addition, the Compact recognized the need to substantially and methodically address the issue of loss and damage for the very first time in these proceedings.
Countries, companies and financial institutions have pledged to clean up important industries, stop deforestation and accelerate the transition to clean technologies.
With the $100 billion delivery plan, the commitment to at least double adaptation funding by 2025, and work to ensure funding goes to national and local adaptation priorities, we have also made significant progress towards increasing climate finance.
Financial organizations have committed to a net zero future and have over $130 trillion in assets on their balance sheets.
And I was delighted that we could present the JETP of South Africa, the first “Partnership for a Just Energy Transition”.
From ‘life below water’ to ‘life on land’, many of these commitments have enabled us to make progress on a number of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as well.
We achieved a lot in Glasgow as a team.
And I’m glad that since November we’ve made progress.
There are 16 NDC updates and news.
We have a number of new long term plans.
Adaptation plans already concern more than 2.5 billion people.
And many efforts are still being made to broaden and improve access to finance.
However, the overall pace of change has been too slow and too confined, my friends.
Many of the promises we heard in Glasgow still stand.
Evidence continues to show that time is running out.
From the scientific conclusions of the IPCC reports to the tragic forest fires, droughts and floods that too often afflict the world.
Therefore, we just need to pick up the pace on all the promises we made in Glasgow.
If we don’t, next year’s global stocktake will demonstrate that we are falling short of the Paris goals, that 1.5 degrees is growing and, quite directly, irreversibly, out of reach, and that we run the risk of exceeding our ability to adapt.
This would have serious repercussions on every industry and every nation.
This, my friends, is about the immediate effects on the lives and livelihoods of many millions of people around the world.
Therefore, I will continue to urge nations and companies to step up, ensure their emissions targets reflect the highest level of ambition, and deliver on their promises.
Furthermore, I will host the second ministerial meeting on climate and development at the same time as the UNGA.
Of course, we will continue to talk to our Egyptian friends.
My message has remained the same throughout this work.
We have the chance to rebuild more effectively and sustainably and lead the world towards a more sustainable future.
But time is running out.
We need to act.
We must act immediately.