14 Nov 2022
G20 summit ground zero to find answers to climate crises, says UN Secretary-General
Ladies and gentlemen of the media,  This G20 summit comes at crucial time. Our world is facing the most pivotal, precarious moment in generations. People everywhere are getting hit from every direction – battered by runaway climate change and squeezed by a cost-of-living crisis. Geopolitical divisions are triggering new conflicts and making old ones even more difficult to […]

Ladies and gentlemen of the media, 

This G20 summit comes at crucial time. Our world is facing the most pivotal, precarious moment in generations. People everywhere are getting hit from every direction – battered by runaway climate change and squeezed by a cost-of-living crisis. Geopolitical divisions are triggering new conflicts and making old ones even more difficult to resolve. The G20 is ground zero for bridging divisions and finding answers to these crises and more. 

First, climate – the defining challenge of our age. I have just come from the COP27 Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh. The goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees is slipping away. We are dangerously close to tipping points at which climate chaos could become irreversible. Science tells us that global heating beyond that limit poses an existential threat to all life on earth. But global emissions, and temperatures, continue to rise.  

I tend to agree that insanity consists in doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. We need a new approach. And so I have proposed a historic pact between developed and emerging economies – a Climate Solidarity Pact that combines the capacities and resources of developed and emerging economies for the benefit of all. 

G20 countries are responsible for 80 per cent of global emissions. G20 leaders can make or break the Climate Solidarity Pact. Under this pact, they would make extra efforts this decade to keep the limit of 1.5 degrees alive. Wealthier countries and International Financial Institutions would provide financial and technical assistance to help emerging economies accelerate their renewable energy transition. The Climate Solidarity Pact can save lives, livelihoods, and our planet. It can help end dependence on fossil fuels while providing universal, affordable, sustainable energy for all. 

Second, the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. The SDGs are issuing an SOS. Developing countries cannot access the finance they need to reduce poverty and hunger, and invest in sustainable development. I therefore urge G20 economies to adopt an SDG stimulus package that will provide governments of the Global South with investments and liquidity, and offer debt relief and restructuring.  

This will enable emerging economies to invest in healthcare, education, gender equality and renewable energy. To invest in their people and rescue the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The SDG Stimulus is a minimal and necessary step to ease the food and energy crises and prevent further suffering and hardship down the line. G20 countries, as the world’s most powerful economies, with a majority on the boards of Multilateral Development Banks, can and must make it happen. 

Ladies and gentlemen, 

My interventions at this Summit will focus on the food and energy crises, and on the digital transformation of our economies and societies. My message on food is that we need urgent action to prevent famine and hunger in a growing number of places around the world. The Black Sea Grain Initiative, and efforts to ensure Russian food and fertilizers can flow to global markets, are essential to global food security. The Black Sea Grain Initiative has already helped to stabilise markets and bring food prices down. Every fraction of a percent eases hunger and save lives. 

Meanwhile, we must do more to ease the global fertiliser crunch. Fertiliser prices are up to three times higher than before the pandemic, and we are working to end all obstacles to the free flow of Russian food and fertilisers to global markets. Our engagement with the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom has helped remove many of the impediments to market access. These products are not subject to sanctions, but suffer indirect impacts. We are working nonstop to resolve all remaining issues, chiefly around payments, and to renew the Black Sea Grain Initiative. 

On energy, the war in Ukraine has clearly demonstrated the dangers of our addiction to fossil fuels. It is the best possible argument for the fastest possible transition to renewable energy. And on digital transformation: the world is looking for leadership. Powerful tech companies are running roughshod over human rights and personal privacy and providing platforms for deadly disinformation, in pursuit of profits. 

Let’s be clear: disinformation kills. Undermining public health kills. These are life-and-death issues. We urgently need global guardrails on technology, and I will suggest a way forward based on a Global Digital Compact for an open, free, secure and inclusive internet. A Compact to deliver on universal connectivity; on a human-centred digital space that protects free speech and privacy; and on the safe and responsible use of data. I am also calling for a global code of conduct that promotes integrity in public communications and promotes information literacy. 

Ladies and gentlemen, 

Today, as we welcome the eight billionth member of our growing human family, we must think ahead. By 2050, the world’s population will be approaching ten billion. Action – or inaction – by the G20 will determine whether every member of our human family has a chance to live sustainably and peacefully, on a healthy planet.  

Thank you for your attention. 

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