At Davos, UN chief urges ‘big emitters’ to take climate action

World Economic Forum/Boris Baldinger UN Secretary-General António Guterres addresses the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


The world is “doomed” in the face of climate change unless major industrial nations reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, UN Secretary-General António Guterres told business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday.

The UN chief observed that while many smaller developing countries and the European Union have committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, “the big emitters” have yet to act.

If the big emitters do not rally around the principle of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, “we will be doomed because they represent a very important share”, the UN chief said.

“The G20 represents 80 per cent of the emissions that contribute to climate change.”

Government action

Mr. Guterres said Governments can take steps to help move the world towards a greener future, such as cutting subsidies for fossil fuels.

“As a taxpayer, I can’t really accept the idea that my taxes are used to boost hurricanes, or to bleach coral, or to melt glaciers”, he stated.

For the Secretary-General, climate change is the defining issue of our time, representing an “existential threat” to the entire planet and threatening development.

Mr. Guterres said he is encouraged by private sector commitment to the environment, as evidenced by increasing numbers of financial institutions and asset managers making carbon neutrality a priority in their investments.

Hope for ‘transformational decisions’

Similarly, cities, voters and young people have been mobilizing for action.

“I am hopeful that it will be possible to mobilize both the private sector and public authorities in order to take transformational decisions in the way we produce our food, power our economy, move, support industry and plan our cities – the transformational changes that are necessary for us, to reach the objectives that the scientific community tells us it is absolutely essential to do”, he said.

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