Guterres asks all countries to plan for carbon neutrality by 2050

(Climate Change News, 22 Jul 2019) In a letter to heads of state, the UN chief set net zero emissions as the benchmark for ambition, ahead of a landmark summit in September.

Guterres is championing ambitious climate action ahead of a critical UN summit on 23 September in New York, when countries are due to present concrete proposals to accelerate the pace of decarbonisation.

In excerpts of the letter seen by Climate Home News, Guterres invited governments to send “a brief summary or an indication of the plans” they are expecting to bring to the summit by 7 August. Countries are expected to compete for the spotlight during the high-level meeting, with only the most ambitious and meaningful strategies being showcased on stage.

After a preparatory meeting for the summit in Abu Dhabi last month, sources said some confusion remained over the benchmark for participation.

Clarifying his demands, 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.”

The latter demand is something only a handful of – developed – countries have committed to. While some poorer countries share the aspiration to achieve carbon neutrality, it is not under serious consideration for major emerging economies like China.

Guterres added that the plans should include “a commitment as concrete as possible” to increase countries’ contribution under the Paris Agreement in 2020 and indicate the long-term strategies countries will submit to UN Climate Change before the end of next year. “Long-term strategies” is a more inclusive framework that allows for varying rates of ambition and is also being pursued in Beijing.

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Climate Change News, 22 Jul 2019: Guterres asks all countries to plan for carbon neutrality by 2050