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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, alongside Greta Thunberg, has urged young people to keep up the pressure on governments. REUTERS / Carlo Allegri

First meeting of the 74th UN General Assembly, the summit on "climate emergency" opens this Monday in New York, three days after millions of young people demonstrated around the world.

With our correspondent in New York, Carrie Nooten

No more speeches, Antonio Guterres expects " concrete and realistic plans ". The UN Secretary-General distributed the copies several months ago, so all day, politicians will expose the tracks they found in different areas: energy transition, climate finance and coal prices, natural solutions etc. With the same goal: to fight more effectively against global warming and to align their countries with the Paris agreement.

To re-read: Climate: the global effort, a puzzle for African countries

Guterres's priority

The UN Secretary-General has decided not to wait until 2020, the date initially planned, for countries to revise upward their climate targets. He has put his organization into high gear well before, and the summit held on Monday in New York is proof: the climate has become the priority action of his mandate.

Re-read: Greta Thunberg, the quiet strength of the climate

History, it enjoined the young people, invited to debate and exchange around concrete actions Saturday, to continue to put the pressure on the governments, even to make speak the urns. Today, heads of state in person are obliged to show that they have all worked on the subject. " It's all that matters to Antonio Guterres," a diplomat whispered. It's no longer security. "

Leading scientists tell us what the gap between what we should do to tackle the climate crisis and what we are actually doing, continues to widen.
We must reverse this trend with decisive #ClimateAction.
New United in Science report: https://t.co/in4a0IEMvA pic.twitter.com/a1uMffxFWv

António Guterres (@antonioguterres) September 23, 2019

Global warming and terrorism, same fight

To explain this change of direction, one only has to look at how security files are stuck in the institution. Russia, for example, opposed its 11th veto this week to a resolution on Syria. And then the partisans of bilateralism, led by the United States, have largely contributed to limiting the influence of the United Nations in the field. So Antonio Guterres went around the problem.

For him, the links between global warming and a population that suffers from natural disasters, or between warming and the rise of terrorism, always quick to take advantage of chaos, are undeniable. " The climate is the only iron for multilateral action that currently works ," says a player in the climate sector. This is how Antonio Guterres could finally restore the UN's image and bring it closer to its original mission.

Financing innovation

Jean-François Julliard, general manager in France of the environmental NGO Greenpeace, wants to believe that this summit will be used for something. " We will judge on a piece. But it is true that we really hope that political leaders have understood that we are no longer in time speeches, promises and beautiful commitments , he warns. The leaders of the major economies of this planet, starting with the European Union, the United States, China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, should really commit to diverting fossil fuels example. There should be enough substantial funding put on the table by the richest countries because we also need funding for this ecological transition. Leaders should tell us that they are ready to profoundly transform our societies in the most polluting sectors: transport, housing, construction, agriculture. "

To prepare for this summit, working groups have been held in recent days, including one on innovation in the industry to ensure ecological transition. To limit global warming, the world should be carbon neutral in 2050, according to scientists. A goal that Robert Watt from Stockholm's Institute for the Environment sees as technically possible: " If we take the example of steel, we can produce carbon-free steel he explains. There are two possible processes. Using hydrogen that would replace coal. It is tested in Sweden currently. The other possibility is to produce clean steel with a carbon capture and storage system. All this is technologically feasible. "

A profound change in industrial systems

But to get the heavy industries to make the ecological transition, you have to raise money. This is what the Innovation Mission, created after the Paris agreement in 2015 and which brings together 25 countries, has set itself. " The member countries pledged to double their public investment in research and development by the end of 2020," said its leader John Loughhead. We have 18 months left and for the moment the investments have increased by 50%, we still have to double them. "

But John Loughhead admits that putting more money into innovation will not be enough. It would require a profound change in our industrial and economic systems to effectively combat global warming.

See also: German coalition reaches agreement on big climate plan