Opening remarks at press conference at the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan

28 June 2019 – Secretary-General António Guterres

Good morning, this G20 meeting takes place in a moment of high tension, high political tension. We have global warming, but we have also global political warming, and this can be seen in relation to trade and technology conflicts, it can be seen in relation to situations in several parts of the world, namely the Gulf.

And it is also a moment in which there are uncertainties about the global economy – uncertainties due to trade conflicts, but also uncertainties related to high levels of debt, to potential instability in financial markets, the risk of slowdown in global growth, and obviously, in a situation like this, even if I pay tribute to the very committed engagements of the Government of Japan and the Prime Minister of Japan for meaningful conclusions of this summit, it is clear that it will be very difficult to have a breakthrough in relation to some of the most difficult challenges that the international community is facing. But, of course, the UN is not part of the G20, we are not members of the G20, but I am grateful for this opportunity to address the leaders and to convey to them our concerns.

And I will today, essentially mention two: first, climate change, second, the implementation of the Agenda 2030. And in both, we are lagging behind.

Climate change is running faster than what we are. We are seeing heat waves in Europe, drought in Africa, storms happening also in Africa and the Caribbean, even the United States. We are seeing a multiplication of natural disasters that are becoming more intense, more dramatic, with worsening humanitarian consequences and more frequent. And we are seeing glaciers melting, corals bleaching, the Arctic with the lowest levels ever in relation to the parts covered by ice. We see the melting in Greenland and Antarctica, it’s extremely worrying.

And so all the analyses that can be made show the situation, in practical terms, is worse than what we could have forecasted and the political will has been failing. This is a paradox that needs to be addressed.

Now, I believe in science. I believe in what has been considered by the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report, the most valid scientific position today, which is that we need to make sure that we do not reach more than 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming at the end of the century. And for that, we need to be carbon neutral in 2050 and we need to have a much more ambitious expression by governments and other actors of their commitments when the Nationally Determined Contributions will be reviewed in 2020. And that is reason why I’m convening a climate summit in New York in September, and that is the reason why I will be appealing to the leaders here in relation to a much stronger commitment of their countries for climate action, and there are many aspects of that that are absolutely essential on this: putting a price on carbon, ending subsidies to fossil fuels, not accepting the idea that we still have an acceleration of the construction of coal power plants, and many other aspects of that that are extremely relevant in order to make sure that we are able to abide by what the scientific community is telling us is absolutely essential to rescue the planet.

And then in relation to the Agenda 2030, it is clear that we are lagging behind. If we project the different Sustainable Development Goals, the evolution since the beginning until now to 2030, we will be more or less at midway of what the international community has determined when the Agenda 2030 was approved, which means that we need to accelerate, accelerate the mobilization of resources, natural resources, countries need to do more, mobilizing their own internal resources, improving their governance, reducing corruption, implementing the rule of law.

At the same time, we need to do more in mobilizing the private sector. Without the private sector, it would be impossible to achieve these Goals. And a lot needs to be done in order to raise awareness and to show the opportunities that exist and to create mechanism to reduce risks.

At the same time, we need to do more to enhance international solidarity, because indeed, we are lagging behind and we need to accelerate. And this will be again, one of the objectives of the summit that we will convene in September, together with the climate summit, both about the Sustainable Development Goals and about the aspects related to the high-level political forum of Member States, and about the financing for development.

And so an appeal, an appeal for a much stronger commitment of the members of the G20 that represent 80 per cent of the emissions in climate change and that represent a very important area of international financial and economic cooperation, and an appeal for a much stronger engagement for an enhanced commitment in order to be able to avoid the present situation in which climate change is running faster than what we are and we are lagging behind in the implementation of the Agenda 2030.