At the opening session of the General Assembly, Chinese President Xi Jinping raised the level of climate ambition by announcing that China would aim to become carbon neutral by 2060.
The week has also seen major announcements from the European Union, as well as from companies and local authorities around the world.
“We have champions and solutions all around us, in every city, corporation and country. But the climate emergency is fully upon us, and we have no time to waste. The answer to our existential crisis is swift, decisive, scaled up action and solidarity among nations,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said.
Mr Guterres convened a high-level Climate Change Roundtable of global leaders on 24 September to galvanize commitment to meeting the Paris Agreement targets to keep temperature increase to between 1.5°C and 2°C.
The Roundtable is due to hear plans for a global event on 12 December, the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement, this year to rally much greater climate action and ambition.
National governments will be invited to present more ambitious and high-quality climate plans (the Nationally Determined Contributions – NDCs – and Long-Term Strategies), as well as COVID recovery plans, new finance commitments and measures to build resilience that are aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5°C and the driving forward the Sustainable Development Goals.
To mark its 75th anniversary, the United Nations launched “a global conversation” in January using surveys and polls to find out what all kinds of people were thinking about the future. UN Secretary-General António Guterres called the results “striking:”
“People are thinking big — about transforming the global economy, accelerating the transition to zero carbon, ensuring universal health coverage, ending racial injustice and ensure that decision-making is more open and inclusive,” he said. “And people are also expressing an intense yearning for international cooperation and global solidarity.”
On 23 September, a Climate Action Event at SDG Action Zone (22-24 September) organized by UN Climate Change highlighted stories of people creating change – and explain how everyone can become part of the solution.
“If we fail with climate change mitigation we will see more dramatic things than we have seen because of COVID-19. The failure of climate mitigation would see challenges which would last hundreds of years,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas in a video message during a debate on the Sustainable Development Goals.
“We have to adapt to climate change and one very powerful way to adapt to climate change is to invest in early warning services. By doing so we can also give a boost to the implementation of SDGs and we can avoid both human losses and economic losses relating to disasters,” he said.