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UN Summit delivers new pathways, actions to boost global response

Leaders from government, business, and civil society on Monday, September 23, 2019 announced potentially far-reaching steps to confront climate change at the United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit in New York.

Antonio Guterres
Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General

As carbon pollution, temperatures, and climate destruction continue to rise, and public backlash mounts, the Summit has offered a turning point from inertia into momentum, action, and global impact – if everyone gets on board.

The UN estimates that the world would need to increase its efforts between three- and five-fold to contain climate change to the levels dictated by science – a 1.5°C rise at most – and avoid escalating climate damage already taking place around the world.

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However, the Paris Agreement provides an open-door framework for countries to continuously ratchet up their positive actions, and Monday’s Summit demonstrates how governments, businesses, and civilians around the world are rising to the challenge.

“The best science, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, tells us that any temperature rise above 1.5 degrees will lead to major and irreversible damage to the ecosystems that support us,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. “Science tells us that on our current path, we face at least 3-degrees Celsius of global heating by the end of the century.”

“The climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we can win.

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“This is not a climate talk summit. We have had enough talk,” he added. “This is not a climate negotiation summit. You don’t negotiate with nature. This is a climate action summit.”

He added: “Governments are here to show you are serious about enhancing Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement. Cities and businesses are here showing what leadership looks like, investing in a green future. Financial actors are here to scale-up action and deploy resources in fundamentally new and meaningful ways. Coalitions are here with partnerships and initiatives to move us closer to a resilient, carbon-neutral world by 2050.

“And young people are here providing solutions, insisting on accountability, demanding urgent action.”  

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