Speaking on the first day of the UN climate change conference, known as COP25, in Madrid, Mr Guterres called on governments to demonstrate increased ambition and commitment.
Mr Guterres described current human behaviour as a “war against nature”. To keep climate change within manageable limits, countries would need to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C reach carbon neutrality by 2050 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030. These are the boundaries outlined by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
“Today, the world is set to produce 120% more fossil fuels than is consistent with a 1.5C pathway. And, for coal, the figure is 280%. But the scientific community is also telling us that the roadmap to stay below 1.5 degrees is still within reach,” he said.
Mr Guterres did not make specific menton of nuclear energy, but the IPCC said in a report last year that growth of nuclear generation could help reduce CO2 emissions.
World leaders are meeting at COP25 to further work on an implementation plan for the 2015 Paris agreement, which binds countries to hold global warming to no more than 2C above pre-industrial levels, with an aspiration of a 1.5C limit.
Mr Guterres said he expected from COP25 – and from countries in the months ahead – a clear demonstration of increased ambition and commitment showing accountability, responsibility and leadership.”
Speaking about the concrete deliverables for the meeting, which include work unfished at COP24 in Katowice, Poland, he said he wanted COP25 to agree on the guidelines for the implementation of article 6 of the Paris Agreement.
Article 6 was not agreed in Poland and would provide guidelines for how international climate markets will work, as a key component of the world’s economic toolbox for addressing climate change. It would establish “a solid basis for international cooperation to reduce emissions and allow for a greater role of the private sector in climate action,” Mr Gutteres said.
Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of UN climate change, said the provision of finance and technology is crucial for developing countries to green their economies and build resilience.
“While we have seen some progress with respect to climate-related financing for developing countries, we will continue to urge developed nations to fulfil their pledge of mobilizing $100 billion annually by 2020,” Ms Espinosa said.
She said financing needs to move away from carbon-heavy investment and towards more sustainable and resilient growth.