UN Chief Calls for Credible Climate Action, Convenes Summit

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The United Nations chief warned Monday that the world is failing to address the "existential threat" from global warning and announced that he will convene a "Climate Action Summit" in September to accelerate an urgent response to the climate crisis.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the "non-negotiable" price of entry to the summit for leaders from governments, business, cities and regions, civil society and finance, will be "new, credible climate action to accelerate the pace of change."

"No exceptions. No compromises," he told a year-end news conference. "There will be no room for back-sliders, green-washers, blame-shifters or repackaging of announcements of previous years."

Guterres said the goal of the 2015 Paris climate agreement of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) "is gasping for breath" and "will soon disappear" as the gap between actual greenhouse gas emissions and the amount allowing the target to be met keeps growing.

He said the summit will take place alongside "a crucial gathering of world leaders" during their annual September gathering at the U.N. General Assembly to discuss lagging efforts to meet the 17 U.N. goals with 169 specific targets to eradicate global poverty and hunger, achieve gender equality, improve living standards and take urgent action to combat climate change, all by 2030.

Guterres said it will be "very similar probably" to the first Climate Action Summit that he convened in September 2019 where only those with "concrete proposals" were invited.

At that meeting, after an emotional appeal from then 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, leaders from 66 countries promised more ambitious climate goals to prevent a warming world from reaching even more dangerous levels and 30 swore to be carbon neutral by midcentury. But the leaders and outside experts said it wasn't enough to stop global warming.

Guterres blamed governments for this failure, saying "national climate plans are falling woefully short," though he acknowledged some steps have been taken to shift the global economy away from the fossil fuel use that is largely to blame for heating up the planet.

The U.N. chief said he will keep pushing for what he called "a Global Solidarity Pact, in which all big emitters make an extra effort to reduce emissions this decade in line with the 1.5-degree goal and ensure support for those who need it."

"I have pulled no punches on the imperative for all of us to confront this existential threat," Guterres said. "And I will not relent."