13.09.23 / UN / Article

Is the UN ambitious enough on climate issues?

In December 2022, UN Secretary-General António Guterres unveiled plans to host the UN Climate Ambition Summit in September 2023, two months prior COP28 in UAE.

In December 2022, UN Secretary-General António Guterres unveiled plans to host the UN Climate Ambition Summit in September 2023, two months prior COP28 in UAE. 

This Summit will coincide with the second SDG Summit, a quadrennial gathering designed to accelerate action at the mid-way point of the sustainable development goals. It offers a pivotal opportunity to review SDG achievements, provide high-level political guidance, and bolster action in the lead-up to the 2030 deadline.

The Climate Ambition Summit calls upon governments, businesses, urban and regional leaders, civil society, and the financial sector to collaborate in devising concrete, credible and tangible climate initiatives aimed at expediting transformative change.

This year's Summit marks a logical continuation of the 2020 Climate Ambition Summit - co-hosted by the United Nations, the United Kingdom, and France in partnership with Chile and Italy. The 2020 summit, held ahead of COP26, sought new commitments to tackle climate change and uphold the Paris Agreement, which was adopted five years earlier on December 12, 2015.

The Summit’s structure revolves around key tracks:  

  1. Ambition Track: requires Governments to take concrete actions within their current Nationally Determined Contributions by accelerating net zero targets, presenting credible energy transition plans, committing to phase-out of coal by 2030 in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, and by 2040 in all other nations establishing a global phase-down in existing oil and gas production, compatible with the 2050 global net-zero target, and setting more ambitious renewables targets.
  2. Credibility Track: relies on leaders from the business world, cities, regions, and financial institutions and their respective transition plans. 
  3. Implementation Track: deals with partnerships that accelerate decarbonisation in high-emitting sectors like energy and shipping while advancing progress on climate justice in areas such as early warning systems and adaptation financing.

The summit’s goal is exceptionally ambitious: to draw attention to the unprecedented acceleration and cooperation required to uphold the 1.5°C target. 

We might even concur that things are progressing positively –evident in the notable peaks observed in the production of the three primary fossil fuels: oil, gas and coal. These are a welcome sight, showing an acceleration in the shift towards cleaner and more secure energy systems and that efforts to avoid the worst effects of climate change are making headway. 

But there are some important issues to bear in mind. The projected reductions in demand, based on current policy settings, are nowhere near steep enough to put the world on a path to limiting global warming to 1.5C. Achieving this target will require significantly stronger and faster policy action by governments. After all, the levels of oil and gas production remain high, and the separate niche is occupied by LNG production. It is also worth mentioning that the UAE, as the third-largest oil-producing member of the OPEC alliance, will host the COP28 climate summit in 2023. 

Criticism arose last year when hundreds of fossil fuel lobbyists were granted access to COP27 in Egypt. The final decision, which only mentioned phasing down the use of coal and not all fossil fuels, was regarded by many delegations as a disappointment.

This is precisely why the close attention of the entire world is focused on the Summit and its messages before the upcoming COP28. Razom We Stand is honoured to be present during the event and to convey key messages on the importance of a full embargo on Russian fossil fuels.