António Guterres (UN Secretary-General) at the…

António Guterres (UN Secretary-General) at the roundtable on the report of the High-Level Expert Group on Net Zero | COP28, UN Climate Change Conference

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Remarks by António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, at the Opening of the Event on the Implementation of the High-Level Expert Group report "Integrity Matters" | COP28, UN Climate Change Conference
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Excellencies, and dear friends,  

We meet at a critical moment.  

Emissions continue to climb.  

Climate impacts continue to devastate.   

Fossil fuel companies continue to make massive profits. 

And people and planet continue to suffer.   

Now COP28 is about turning things around.   

But national governments cannot do it alone.  

Businesses, financial institutions, civil society, cities, states and regions are all critical in the race to net-zero. 

My Acceleration Agenda calls on governments and non-state actors to radically speed-up efforts to cut emissions.   

And my message to both is the same.  

Our world cannot afford delays, back-tracking or greenwashing.  

It's time to move from promises to action.   

To concrete action.  

The report by my High-Level Expert Group on Net Zero, so well represented here, provides a blueprint for credible climate action by non-state actors that aligns with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.   

To be credible, transition plans must include five key elements.   

First — plans must cover all activities, across every link of value chains.  

Genuine decarbonization cannot be substituted with dubious offsets or carbon credits, in any scope of emissions.    

Second — plans must detail targets for 2025, 2030 and 2035.  

And these plans must be in line with science-based pathways to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.  

Third — plans must disclose all lobbying, policy engagements and communication campaigns.  

We need to take every step to discourage greenwashing and ensure full transparency.  

Fourth — plans must highlight efforts to change business models and internal operations to phase out fossil fuels.   

And fifth — plans must outline a just, equitable and accelerated renewables transition.  

I'm encouraged by some initial steps to align transition plans with the High-Level Group's recommendations.   

The Climate Ambition Summit in September spotlighted first movers and doers from business, financial institutions, cities and regions.  

Many of you are here today contributing with practical solutions.  

The UNFCCC is also working to bring consistency and transparency to how countries and companies report on their net-zero progress.  

And this is vital to helping consumers, investors and regulators understand what is credible and what is not.  

At the same time, I have heard concerns about the limitations of voluntary actions in the absence of clear policies and regulations.  

Let me be clear.  

Governments must lead the way. 

They can do so by incentivizing credible climate action and providing the certainty and predictability non-state actors desperately need.  

By designing and implementing policies, regulations and standards such as carbon pricing and ending fossil fuel subsidies.  

And by presenting ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions in 2025 that cover all economic activity and emissions, and are backed with the finance, technology and partnerships to make them possible.   

I encourage non-state leaders to demand a seat at the table as governments develop and implement those plans.  

Dear friends, 

With national governments and non-state actors working together — we can drastically cut emissions and win the race to net zero. 

The recommendations of my expert group offer a clear, credible path forward and that is the path we must all take.   

Now yesterday, some in the oil and gas industry made an announcement. 

On the one hand, the fossil fuel industry – the giant behind the climate crisis -- is finally starting to wake up.   

But the promises made clearly fall short of what is required.   

The commitment on the elimination of methane by 2030 is a step in the right direction.  

But the announcement to achieve net zero by 2050 says nothing about eliminating emissions from fossil fuel consumption – the so-called scope 3.  

Science is clear: we need to phase out fossil fuels within a timeframe compatible with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. 

In addition, yesterday's announcement provided no clarity on the pathway to reaching net zero by 2050 which is absolutely essential to ensure integrity – and integrity matters. 

As the expert group put it in their report, and I just mentioned, integrity really matters.  

So there must be no room for greenwashing. And this also applies to what has been announced yesterday. 

Let's build regulatory frameworks that ensure credibility and accountability go hand in hand.   

Let's leave this meeting with a renewed commitment to deliver the detailed and credible transition plans that our world needs.  

Thank you, all of you, for being part of this global common effort. 

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