Much more is needed for climate action

COP28 occurred at a decisive moment in the fight against the climate crisis — a moment that demands maximum ambition both in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and climate justice.

The issues of the energy transition and the future of fossil fuels were front and center.

Science tells us that limiting global heating to 1.5 degrees will be impossible without the phaseout of all fossil fuels on a timeframe consistent with this limit. This has been recognized by a growing and diverse coalition of countries.

To those who opposed a clear reference to a phaseout of fossil fuels in the COP28 text, I want to say that a fossil fuel phaseout is inevitable whether they like it or not. Let’s hope it doesn’t come too late.

Of course, timelines, pathways and targets will differ for countries at different levels of development. But all efforts must be consistent with achieving global net zero by 2050 and preserving the 1.5-degree goal. And developing countries must be supported every step of the way.

The era of fossil fuels must end — and it must end with justice and equity.

Simultaneously, COP28 agreed to commitments to triple renewables capacity and double energy efficiency by 2030.

There was also progress in relation to adaptation and finance. 

Pledges to the Green Climate Fund now total a record $12.8 billion for the most climate-vulnerable communities.

The new framework on adaptation action provides a measurable set of new targets to drive adaptation action and implementation.

Over the next two years, governments are required to prepare new economy-wide national climate action plans. These plans must be aligned with the 1.5-degree temperature goal and cover all greenhouse gases.

They must also be underpinned with credible climate policies and regulations, including a price on carbon and ending finance for fossil fuel. And both the preparation and implementation of these plans must be fully funded and supported.

But much more is needed to keep the hope of the 1.5-degree limit alive and deliver climate justice to those on the frontlines of the crisis.

Many vulnerable countries are drowning in debt and at risk of drowning in rising seas. 

It is time for a surge in finance, including for adaptation, loss and damage and reform of the international financial architecture.

We need increased capital and reform of the business model of multilateral development banks to massively increase direct support — and to leverage far more private finance at reasonable costs for climate action in developing countries.

The world cannot afford delays, indecision or half measures.

I remain confident that despite many differences, the world can unite and rise to the challenge of the climate crisis. Multilateralism remains humanity’s best hope.

It is essential to come together around real, practical and meaningful climate solutions that match the scale of the climate crisis.

Excerpts from the UN Secretary-General’s statement at the closing of the UN Climate Change Conference COP28, 13 December 2023.