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UN Chief Announces a 2023 “No-Nonsense” Special Summit on Climate Crisis

The move comes amid mounting frustration with world leaders’ refusal to phase out fossil fuels.

UN Secretary General António Guterres speaks to the press at the United Nations headquarters on October 17, 2022, in New York City.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced Monday that he will convene a “no-nonsense” Climate Ambition Summit next year amid mounting frustration with world leaders’ refusal to phase out fossil fuels and take other necessary steps to combat runaway planetary warming.

“I call on every leader to step up — from governments, business, cities and regions, civil society, and finance,” Guterres said during his end-of-year press conference at U.N. headquarters in New York City. “They must come with new, tangible, and credible climate action to accelerate the pace of change. The invitation is open.”

“But,” the U.N. chief added, “there is a price of entry and the price of entry is non-negotiable — credible, serious, and new climate action and nature-based solutions that will move the needle forward and respond to the urgency of the climate crisis must be presented. It will be a no-nonsense summit. No exceptions. No compromises. There will be no room for back-sliders, greenwashers, blame-shifters, or repackaging of announcements of previous years.”

News of the special conference, set to take place in September 2023, comes after two recently concluded U.N. climate summits — the lobbyist-riddled COP27 climate event in Egypt and the COP15 biodiversity gathering in Montreal — left advocates dismayed by world leaders’ failure to take concrete action to tackle the planet’s most pressing emergencies.

At COP27 — a summit so disappointing that some climate advocates are demanding a boycott of COP28 — policymakers did nothing to end what Guterres has deemed nations’ “fossil fuel addiction.”

“The Climate Ambition Summit will be convened alongside a crucial gathering of world leaders to accelerate action at the mid-way point of the Sustainable Development Goals,” Guterres said Monday. “I am more determined than ever to make 2023 a year for peace, a year for action. We can’t accept things as they are.”

Guterres’ Climate Ambition Summit is scheduled to begin two months before COP28 in the United Arab Emirates, one of the world’s largest oil producers.

According to new research from the United Kingdom’s Met Office, next year is expected to be one of the hottest on record and “the tenth year in succession that temperatures have reached at least 1°C above pre-industrial levels.”

Alex Rafalowicz, director of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, said in a statement that Guterres’ summit “can differentiate itself from forums past by putting real solutions on the table that tackle the biggest driver of the climate crisis: fossil fuels.”

“Fossil fuels did not find their way into the climate COP but they must if the [secretary-general’s] summit is to succeed,” said Rafalowicz. “This means phasing out all fossil fuels in a way that is fast, fair, and sufficiently financed.”


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