UN secretary general António Guterres said a major new climate report represents “a survival guide for humanity” as he called for a global push to get behind renewables, halt new oil & gas activity and accelerate net zero ambitions by 10 years.

Guterres launched calls for a G20 Climate Solidarity Pact to keep climate efforts on track as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) unveiled its Climate Change 2023 Synthesis Report with a somber message on global heating and key recommendations over how to get the fight against it back on track.

The UN chief wants to see developed economies “hit the fast-forward button” on 2050 net zero ambitions and instead achieve it as close as possible to 2040, a limit they should “all respect”.

“This can be done. Some have already set a target as early as 2035,” he claimed. Emerging economies should aim for 2050.

Guterres fired off a list of policy moves he said are needed for an ‘Acceleration Agenda’ to underpin a “quantum leap in climate action”, including.

  • Net zero power generation by 2035 for all developed countries and 2040 for the rest of the world
  • Ceasing all licensing or funding of new oil and gas, in line with earlier recommendations by the International Energy Agency.
  • Stopping any expansion of existing oil and gas reserves.
  • No new coal and phasing out of coal by 2030 in OECD countries and 2040 elsewhere.
  • Shifting subsidies from fossil fuels to a just energy transition.
  • Establishing a global phase down of existing oil and gas production compatible with the 2050 global net zero target.

Guterres' comments followed the publication of the IPCC’s Synthesis Report, the latest major distillation of scientific thinking on climate change that is published every six or seven years and will play a key role in informing debate at this year's COP28 climate summit.

He said the report shows a “fact-based, science-grounded way out of the climate mess” and is a “survival guide for humanity.

“We have never been better equipped to solve the climate challenge – but we must move into warp speed climate action now.”

Oil CEOs challenged

The report comes against a background of a resurgence in oil & gas-related activity as a response to energy security concerns that shot up the global agenda following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with fossil giants making newly confident statements over their core products and being notably less vocal about the energy transition.

The US secretary general made a direct challenge to oil & gas CEOs to “be part of the solution. They should present credible, comprehensive and detailed transition plans in line with the recommendations of my high-level expert group on net zero pledges.

“These plans must clearly detail actual emission cuts for 2025 and 2030, and efforts to change business models to phase out fossil fuels and scale up renewable energy.”

Ottmar Edenhofer, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and former co-chair of one of th3e the IPCC’s working group, said: “The IPCC’s sixth synthesis report shows that we can still meet the 1.5℃ limit if we act quickly now and permanently reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors.

“This will require supporting CO2 removal technologies whose deployment is associated with moderate economic costs. While the rise in emissions worldwide is leveling off somewhat, emissions are not yet falling.

“There is also good news,” Edenhofer added. “The report shows that in certain world regions a decoupling of CO2 emissions and economic growth is just beginning, that is, that a high quality of life is also achievable with low emissions.”

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