After a summer of wildfires, heat waves and hurricanes, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he is banking on new pledges from governments and businesses to abandon fossil fuels during a special climate summit in New York on Monday.
With Swedish teen Greta Thunberg and other activists piling pressure on delegates ahead of the Climate Action Summit, UN officials expect about 60 countries to build on their commitments to the 2015 Paris Agreement to combat global warming, Reuters reported.
“We are losing the fight against climate change,” Guterres told a news conference on Wednesday.
“I expect that there will be the announcement and unveiling of a number of meaningful plans on reducing emissions in the next decade and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050,” he said.
On the stage next week will be countries including small island states most vulnerable to sea-level rise and European nations such as France and Germany, according to a draft schedule seen by Reuters.
Environmental groups say the summit is coming at a crucial time, as extreme weather events and spiking temperatures affect more people in more parts of the globe.
“The meeting couldn’t be more important,” said May Boeve, executive director of 350.org, a climate activism group.
“It means countries will need to finally talk about the source of the flames engulfing our planet: fossil fuels.”
Guterres has called for an end to the construction of coal plants from 2020 worldwide, as well as transitions away from subsidies for fossil fuels and a rapid shift toward renewable energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal.
According to Reuters, although the Paris Agreement commits governments to a rapid transition to clean energy, the world’s greenhouse gas emissions hit a record high last year.