Addressing the climate crisis is no longer optional. It is an immediate necessity.
UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- World leaders called for action to tackle climate change and to bring the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) back on track Wednesday, the second day of the General Debate of the UN General Assembly.
Seychelles President Wavel Ramkalawan said the 2030 Agenda is a roadmap to eradicate poverty, promote human rights, protect the planet, and ensure that no one is left behind.
"Yet, as we review our progress, it is evident that we are falling short of our targets. And the global pandemic has further exacerbated the challenges before us. Now, more than ever, we must renew our commitment to the SDGs and take decisive action to fulfill our promises," he said.
Development partners must deliver on the Addis Ababa Action Agenda by scaling up financing and means of implementing the SDGs. International financial institutions should embrace reform to enable development funding for vulnerable countries. There is also a need to leverage effective financing mechanisms, such as impact investments, public-private partnerships, and debt relief, to yield greater results for development agendas like the African Union Agenda 2063, he said.
Addressing the climate crisis is no longer optional. It is an immediate necessity, said the president.
Seychelles is committed to renewable energy and energy efficiency. But as a small-island developing state, the country lacks the capacity and infrastructure to develop these solutions fully.
The Group of 20 (G20) and countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as major emitters, must take decisive actions to lead in combating climate change. The establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund is a positive step. But its operationalization is crucial to compensating those most at risk, he said.
In her speech, Slovak President Zuzana Caputova warned that time is running out for climate action.
"Our cities are becoming warmer, our oceans more acidic and our land arider. This is a result of human-caused climate change. This summer gave us another preview of what we can expect if we sit on our hands," she said.
The current pace of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation measures will not limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, she warned.
"Globally, our emissions still exceed our Paris (Agreement) targets. We can still prevent the worst-case scenarios. But global emissions must peak before 2030," she said. "Let us turn this ambition into our joint and global commitment."
Feasible, effective and low-cost options for mitigation and adaptation are already available. In Slovakia, 85 percent of electricity is already produced with zero emissions. Slovakia will use 5 percent of its GDP to decarbonize its economy and increase the use of renewables in the next seven years. In 2030, its emissions will be 55 percent lower than in 1990, Caputova said.
"We need to wake up. We are not battling an external threat. This is not a meteor heading for Earth. This is an existential crisis that we created -- and we alone must solve," she noted.
Guyana President Mohamed Irfaan Ali said that multilateralism remains the most effective approach to address challenges, especially climate change.
"We are all experiencing its devastating effects. The difference, however, is our capacity to respond," he said, adding that small-island developing and low-lying coastal states are among the hardest hit and require adequate financing while the commitments by developed countries, including the pledge of 100 billion U.S. dollars for developing countries per year, remain unfulfilled.
"I believe that net zero by 2050 as a target can only be achieved by a combination of measures that include: a cut in fossil fuel production; incentivizing the introduction of renewables at scale; exploring advances in technology in using carbon capture and storage; cutting deforestation and land degradation; and introducing measures to curb demand for energy."
Ali said financing is a cornerstone of all efforts to achieve the SDGs and meet the challenges faced by developing countries, including the funding gaps.
Commitments, including that which was made 50 years ago to provide 0.7 percent of gross national income as official development assistance, must be fulfilled. The existing financial architecture is incapable of addressing current global challenges and must be reformed, he said.
In this regard, the early adoption of a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index; implementing the measures in the Bridgetown Initiative, a political agenda for reform of the global financial architecture and development finance; and addressing liquidity support, private capital, development lending, trade and more inclusive governance of the international finance institutions, must form part of the reform agenda, he said.
Tajik President Emomali Rahmon said that despite the efforts of the international community to attain the 2030 Agenda, the world is not on track to meet most of the SDGs, while developing countries, least developed countries and small-island developing states are bearing the brunt.
"Therefore, we understand that solidarity, financing, implementation of commitments and other practical measures should be strengthened, and this requires a truly fundamental shift," he said.
Tajikistan supports UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' Our Common Agenda to reverse the course and turbo-charge the SDGs. It also welcomes the secretary-general's SDG Stimulus and his call for at least 500 billion dollars to be made available to developing countries, least developed countries and small-island developing states annually to accelerate progress toward the 2030 Agenda.
It also welcomes the call to reform the international financial architecture to ensure the mobilization of stable and long-term financing to achieve SDGs and tackle climate issues, he said.
Tajikistan, with 93 percent of its territory covered by mountains, is experiencing the impact of climate change firsthand and is considered one of the world's most vulnerable countries to climate change's impact. Frequent climate-related disasters in the forms of landslides, mudflows, floods and droughts in Tajikistan result in human and infrastructure loss, he said.
Tajikistan, therefore, attaches particular importance to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, he said.
More than 13,000 glaciers are registered in Tajikistan. Sixty percent of the region's water resources emanate from Tajikistan. Unfortunately, over the past decades, Tajikistan has lost more than 1,000 glaciers, which will have significant implications for future food security, water availability, and ecosystems of Central Asia and beyond, he warned.
"As a proactive and champion country in the global water and climate agenda, Tajikistan will continue to strive to promote cooperation between countries and organizations," said the president.
Tajikistan produces 98 percent of its electricity from hydropower. Effective and rational use of Tajikistan's tremendous hydropower resources can provide a favorable ground for the development of green energy generation throughout the region, he said.
Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi regretted the fact that the SDGs are off the track.
"Of critical importance is the distressing reality that the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs is off track," he said, noting that half of the SDG targets are experiencing inadequate progress while 30 percent of the targets have come to a halt.
This lack of progress is exacerbated by the multifaceted global crisis which compounds the already dire situation, he said.
"The gravity of challenges faced by the SDGs demands that we transcend the business-as-usual approach to addressing these. This will obligate a robust political commitment from all of us," he said. "It is, therefore, imperative for the United Nations system, international financiers, the private sector and civil society to forge a collective front and refocus our efforts to swiftly propel the SDGs back on track."
Climate change remains an urgent and critical challenge of the times, with a huge threat to the existence of the planet. It is alarming that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently reported that global greenhouse emissions are at the highest level and continue to surge, he said.
"To effectively address climate change, it is crucial that we prioritize international cooperation and partnerships. This global effort requires a comprehensive approach that goes beyond reducing emissions, encompassing various aspects of our lives, be it energy production, agriculture, transportation and industry," he said.
Efforts must also include accelerating the uptake of renewable energy sources and investing in clean technologies. This necessitates sufficient funding to support mitigation and adaptation, particularly for developing countries, he added.
Botswana welcomes the UN secretary-general's Acceleration Agenda, which urges the fast-tracking of climate action in all countries and sectors. It is imperative that both developed and developing countries comply with their targets, he said, reaffirming Botswana's commitment to achieving a 15 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.