News from the UN # 115

12th December 2020 marked the 5th anniversary of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. To highlight the importance of the day, the UN partnered with France, UK (the COP 25 and COP26 Presidencies) to host the virtual 2020 Climate Ambition Summit. A total of 70 Heads of State and Government along with local government and major business leaders, made pledges, setting out stronger commitments under at least one of the three pillars of the Paris Agreement: mitigation, adaptation and finance. Some countries promised ambitious dates to reach net zero carbon emissions: e.g. Finland by 2035, Austria by 2040 and the Holy See by 2050 while Pakistan committed to no more new coal-fired plants. Financial commitments to assist in adaptation of poorer countries were generally lacking. The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres challenged G20 leaders noting that their COVID recovery packages included spending 50% more on fossil fuel and CO2 intensive sectors than on low CO2 and renewable energy. “The trillions of dollars needed for COVID recovery is money that we are borrowing from future generations. This is a moral test. We cannot use these resources to lock in policies that burden future generations with a mountain of debt on a broken planet.”