Press Conference with UN Secretary General António Guterres

See video, key statements, and a transcript from the event in which Guterres talks about why he's "very worried" ahead of COP26.

CCNow hosted a press conference with United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, who is at the heart of COP26 negotiations in Glasgow, on October 21. He will also attend the G20 summit immediately before COP26, which will have major implications for COP26. The press conference was moderated by Mark Hertsgaard, CCNow’s executive director, in collaboration with Guterres’ office.

Attending journalists posed questions to Guterres via video link. You can see highlights from their questions here and scroll down to see the full transcript.

Key statements

From António Guterres’ opening statement: “Our planet is careening towards climate catastrophe. As leaders prepare for COP26 in Glasgow, we are still far off track to the 1.5 degree future our world so desperately needs. If you look at present national commitments, the ones that we have show a pathway of at least 2.7 degrees hitting above pre-industrial levels, and that’s obviously a one-way ticket to disaster.”

“As we look to Glasgow, the time for diplomatic niceties is over. We need really to speak the unfiltered truth.”

“The carbon pollution of a handful of countries has brought humanity to its knees and they bear the greatest responsibility. Before Glasgow, the G20 leaders will meet in Rome, and they know their economies are responsible for four-fifths of planet-heating carbon pollution. If they do not stand up and lead these efforts, we are headed for terrible human suffering. And my message to them is clear. Do not fiddle with health measures and shallow promises while our planet burns. Do not pass up this opportunity to do the right thing for current and future generations.”

“When looking at the short amount of time between now and Glasgow, and when seeing how far we are to get where we must be, I am deeply worried. But I’m still hopeful that common sense and the sense of responsibility will make all governments take the right decisions.”

Mark Hertsgaard, CCNow: What is your strategy during the next three weeks for getting governments to do the right thing?
António Guterres: “I’ll be addressing the G20 myself. I’ll be present [at] the Summit. I’m talking to leaders of key countries in relation to this situation. And I’m in close contact with crucial advocates…I’m very worried with the fact that when one sees the present national contributions, instead of a decrease 45% of emissions in the next 10 years, we have still an increase of 16%, which means that during this decade, a number of tipping points will be reached that make totally impossible the objective of 1.5 degrees.”

Amélie Bottollier-Depois, AFP: How can the COP be a success if the two biggest emitters are not providing a good example?
António Guterres: “The Paris Agreement would not be possible without an effective cooperation agreement between the United States and China. And I fear that the geopolitical divisions today will make it difficult to reach the same level of cooperation, which I personally think would be key because China and the United States are the two biggest polluters, and both China and the United States need to do more.”

Cara Korte, CBS News: How important is it for President Biden and for the US delegation to go into COP26 with a climate victory in Congress? If they don’t have that, what does that mean for the United States’ ability to lead on this global stage?
António Guterres: “I hope that the Clean [Energy] Performance Program will be included because it’s a very important element. I know that there are efforts in the administration to find alternatives if measures in the Congress are not approved. I hope that, one way or the other, the US will be able to come to Glasgow with sufficient credibility to increase its negotiating capacity, namely in the discussion with some emerging economies.”

Neil Kamal, Times of India, asks about the emissions gap:
António Guterres: “It is clear that we have an emissions gap, and it is clear that everybody must do more… Developed countries need to lead. But, at the present moment, emerging economies must also go an extra mile because, if emerging economies, because of their volume today in the global economy, do not go that extra mile, then the objectives of Paris will not be reachable. So everybody needs to do more. This is the moment for maximum ambition, North and South, East and West.”

James Bayes, Al Jazeera: We’re 10 days out from Glasgow, and you sound just as pessimistic. Are you getting increasingly desperate?
António Guterres: “I am extremely worried, but still hopeful… I am determined to do everything I can to try to make things happen positively. But, indeed, the progress in the recent weeks has not been enough. We are getting closer and closer. I hope that, because we have key moments from now to Glasgow … The most important is the G 20 meeting. I hope that we are still on time to avoid a failure in Glasgow, but time is running short, and things are getting more difficult. And that is why I am very, very worried. I’m afraid things might [go] wrong.”

David Schechter, WFAA: How important is the participation of a state like Texas for the world to achieve its goals? How do you encourage participation from a state that’s so entrenched in the carbon economy?
António Guterres: “…If Texas wants to be prosperous in 2050 or 2070, Texas will have to diversify its economy and Texas will have to be less dependent on oil and gas, and Texas will have to be, and it has all the conditions to be because of the weather in Texas, a leading state in renewable energy in the West.”

Response to The World’s Carolyn Beeler’s question on loss and damage:
António Guterres: “I think it would be important to have some progress in relation to the loss and damage [at COP26] because that is very important for the developing countries, especially the most vulnerable ones.”

Response to a question by Manka Behl, Times of India, on developing countries that rely on coal:
António Guterres: “If a country invests in coal for the future, that country is building stranded assets. It will be building white elephants that in a few years time will, I’m sure, not [be] working.”

Luciana Gurge, MediaTalks, Brazil: What would be your expectation with what Brazil will do during the meeting? And what will be your hope for Brazil?
António Guterres: “What I want is that the Brazilian delegation in Glasgow is able to participate constructively in the negotiation about Article 7, because the negotiation about Article 7 is a negotiation in which we have on one side essentially Brazil, India, China, that have as you know lots of credits from the Kyoto period… This is a conflict, a complex negotiation. This negotiation has failed in Katowice, it has failed in Madrid. I hope that the Brazilian, as the other delegations, will have a constructive approach to allow for Article 7 that establishes the global carbon market to be finally approved.”

On the importance of good climate reporting:
António Guterres: “May I say a final word, not as Secretary General of the United Nations, but as a citizen of the world, and as a father and grandfather, it is a word of thanks for what you are doing, and for your work. Your work in a world where sometimes we are afraid that we see the death of truth, I think your work in bringing truth to the debate on the future of our planet is an extremely important one, and I thank you very much for that.”

 

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: Good afternoon, good evening to all of you, and thank you all to the Covering Climate Now partners for joining us today from all over the world. We’ve received dozens of requests for questions. We’ll try to get through them as many as possible if we have time. So for this reason, we ask you to keep it to one question per person. If we have time for some follow ups, we’ll get back to you, and please indicate that in the chat. A couple of technical notes, please mute yourselves while you’re not speaking. We do encourage you to have your cameras on so the Secretary General can see who he is speaking to via Zoom. As a reminder, at the bottom of your screen, you’ll see an interpretation icon, a globe. So if you want to ask a question in French or in Spanish, there will be simultaneous interpretation. If you do not need the interpretation, please make sure it is set to off and not to English. You’ll have better audio for that until you require it. And I now give the floor to Mark Hertsgaard from Covering Climate Now. Mark?

Mark Hertsgaard: Thank you, Steph, so much and welcome, everybody. On behalf of Covering Climate Now we are very pleased to be offering this press conference with Secretary General Guterres in advance of next week’s group of 20 meeting in Rome, in Italy, rather, and the COP26 Climate Summit, of course, that starts October 31st in Glasgow. To be clear, today’s press conference is for Covering Climate Now partners only. It is on the record, there is no embargo. You may file stories whenever you like. Stefan and I have chosen the order of questions and he will be calling on you one at a time. He’s already explained the interpretation function; if you don’t need it please leave it off. And if there is a question in French or Spanish, remember to go back afterward to switch it back to off so you can hear everything better. Everyone can quote anything that is said during this press conference, no matter who asked the corresponding question. And because this press conference is for Covering Climate Now only, we ask that you not tweet about it until it is over. Also, at the conclusion of the press conference, each of you will receive an MP4 with a broadcast quality recording of the entire session that your newsroom can use as you see fit. Now, Stephane will introduce the Secretary General for some opening remarks.

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: Thank you. Secretary General, please, you have the floor, and then we’ll take your questions.

António Guterres: Ladies and gentlemen from the press, thank you very much for this opportunity to meet with all of you. As I’ve been saying time and again, the climate crisis is a code red for humanity. Our planet is careening towards climate catastrophe. As leaders prepare for COP26 in Glasgow, we are still far off track to the 1.5 degree future our world so desperately needs. If you look at present national commitments, the ones that we have show a pathway of at least 2.7 degrees heating above pre industrial levels, and that’s obviously a one-way ticket to disaster. The 1.5 degree future we need requires concrete plans to cut global emissions by 45% compared to 2010 levels this decade, and a collective pathway to achieve net zero globally by 2050.

António Guterres: It requires concrete action now, because we are approaching tipping points that can make everything irreversible. And so far, we are not seeing the level of ambition required to get there. As we look to Glasgow, the time for diplomatic niceties is over. Now I think it’s time for unfiltered truth. Allow me to say a few things I deeply believe. Truth number one. The carbon pollution of a handful of countries has brought humanity to its knees and they bear the greatest responsibility. Now, before Glasgow, G20 leaders will meet in Rome, knowing their economies are responsible for four-fifths of planet-heating carbon pollution.

António Guterres: If they do not stand up and lead these efforts, we are headed for terrible human suffering. And my message to them is clear. Do not fiddle with half measures and shallow promises while our planet burns. Do not pass up this opportunity to do the right thing for current and future generations. But the burden is not theirs alone. Indeed, we need, first of all, to tell them that they must guarantee that developed G20 countries assume the lead, but we must tell them also that the emerging economies must also go the extra mile. If not, it will not be possible to reach our objectives. All developed and emerging need to do their maximum.

António Guterres: And as all other countries are also involved, that brings us to truth number two. All countries need to arrive with bold time-bound, front-loaded strategies to reach global net zero emissions by 2050; to decarbonize every sector from power to transport, farming and forestry; to shift subsidies from fossil fuels and polluting industries towards renewable energy and support for the just transition; to put a price on carbon and channel that back to creating green jobs; and to phase out coal by 2030 in OECD countries and 2040 in all other countries. And governments are increasingly agreeing to stop financing coal, and now private finance needs to follow suit. While the G20 must lead, all countries, developed and developing, need to step up their ambition, which means updating their national determined contributions on a continuing basis until we are on the 1.5 degree track. The old carbon burning model of development is a dead end, environmentally and economically. All countries need to build sustainable, resilient economies in the years ahead.

António Guterres: And this leads us to truth number three. Solidarity is essential. Many countries in the developing world will need support to make this shift as they struggle with COVID and spiraling death crises. And so developed countries must provide financial and technical support, bilateral, and also through public and multilateral development banks. This includes, as we all know, providing at least US $100 billion each year to the developing world for climate action between 2020 and 2025. It was not done in 2020. It will not be done in 2021. And we also need the world’s biggest banks, public and private, and its wealthiest asset managers to step up. I repeat my call to donors and multilateral development banks to devote at least 50% of their climate support towards adaptation and resilience.

António Guterres: Because the truth is that many developing countries are already under enormous pressure due to climate change, with devastating consequences in their societies. I believe that leaders from all countries know what to do. And the window is closing fast and we don’t have a moment to lose, but if we act now and each do our part, we can all build a greener and more equitable and sustainable world. Now, when looking at Glasgow, when looking at the short amount of time between now and Glasgow, and when seeing how far we are to get where we must be, I am deeply worried, but I’m still hopeful that common sense and the sense of responsibility will make all governments take the right decisions.

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: Thank you very much, sir. We’ll now go to the first question will be Mark Hertsgaard for the Nation Magazine. Mark?

Mark Hertsgaard: Thank you, Steph. Mr. Secretary General, it’s very nice to see you again. Thank you for your time today. I have a question that only a secretary general can answer. In your last interview with Covering Climate Now in June, you said that humanity is, “At the verge of the abyss,” and you’ve been very clear again today about what must happen to avoid falling into that abyss. I won’t reiterate it. But as you know better than anyone, sir, a secretary general of the United Nations is not a king. He cannot issue decrees that others must obey. Since you cannot force governments to do what is right, my question to you, sir, is what is your strategy during the next three weeks for getting governments to do the right thing anyway?

António Guterres: Well, I’ll be addressing the G20 myself. I’ll be present in the Summit. I’m talking to leaders of key countries in relation to this situation. And I’m in close contact with crucial advocates. I had, yesterday, a meeting with global private sector leaders. I see the private sector, a lot of commitment growing, and I ask the private sector to put pressure on their governments for the governments to facilitate transition. I’m using as much as we can our contacts with the civil society. We are mobilizing use. We are using our media platforms. We are doing everything we can. Why are we on the verge of the abyss? Because we are very close to tipping points. And I’m very worried with the fact that when one sees the present national determined contributions, instead of a decrease 45% of emissions in the next 10 years, we have still an increase of 16%, which means that during this decade, a number of tipping points will be reached that make totally impossible the objective of 1.5 degrees, and we’ll have some consequences that we cannot even forecast.

António Guterres: Some people even say that the Gulf Stream might stop. I mean, this is just to give an example of what could be a major change. As I said, it’s not proven scientifically. The only thing that is clear is that it is weakening, but we see what happens to the tundra. The tundra melts. As the tundra melts, methane goes up. As methane goes up, more higher temperatures. As higher temperatures, tundra melts more. I mean the same with forest fires, the same with the situation of glaciers and the rising level of the oceans.

António Guterres: I mean, we are reaching some tipping points that will make it irreversible, to have an absolutely unacceptable situation in the next few decades. And we need to stop it now. And Glasgow is essential to stop it now, but, for that, we still need to make sure that there are strong commitments to reduce emissions, and that there are strong commitments to finance the developing countries and to finance them with a high percentage devoted to adaptation.

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: Thank you. Next question. Amélie Bottollier-Depois, AFP …

Amélie Bottollier-Depois: China still has not submitted its new plan. President Biden has difficulties with his climate commitments. How can the COP be a success if the two biggest emitters are not providing a good example and, more generally speaking, given the many objectives of this COP—carbon neutrality, adaptation—for you, what would be the markers or indicators of success and the goals that not are not met, how will that have an impact?

António Guterres [translated from French]: If I understood your question, well, I must say that the Paris Agreement would not be possible without an effective cooperation agreement between the United States and China. And I fear that the geopolitical divisions today will make it difficult to reach the same level of cooperation, which I personally think would be key because China and the United States are the two biggest polluters, and both China and the United States need to do more. They need to do more than they have been announcing up to date. As to the Chinese, the key issue is reducing emissions. From the point of view of the United States, the key issue is financing and, of course, guarantees that emissions reductions goals can be specific, can be concrete. We know what’s happening now in the area of high level discussions in the US Congress, so it’s absolutely vital that both countries be able to take an approach that will make it possible for them to go further on both sides.

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: Next question. Next question to Cara Korte of CBS news. Cara?

Cara Korte: Secretary General, thank you so much for doing this, for your time today. A specific question with regards to President Biden and the United States. You’re aware of the congressional negotiations that are ongoing in the United States on critical climate provisions, and the president and progressive Democrats in Washington are having to lower their expectations, lower their asks to get just their own party on board. I’m wondering how important it is for president Biden and for the US delegation to go into COP26 with a climate victory in Congress. And, if they don’t have that, what that means for the United States’ ability to lead on this global stage?

António Guterres: Well, it is obvious that the position of the United States and its capacity to negotiate will be much bigger if all the commitments that are foreseen can be demonstrated as commitments that will be implemented. And so, obviously, I’m following with a lot of interest the debates that are taking place. I hope that the clean electricity performance program will be included because it’s a very important element. I know that there are efforts in the administration to find alternatives if measures in the Congress are not approved. I hope that, one way or the other, the US will be able to come to Glasgow with sufficient credibility to increase its negotiating capacity, namely in discussion with some emerging economies.

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: Thank you. We will now go to the Times of India. I think it is Neil Kamal, Times of India.

Neil Kamal: What would the pledge by the rich nations to mobilize hundred million dollars each year from 2020 to help the most vulnerable countries adapt to the dangerous effects of climate change and reduce their emissions? Is the pledge expected to be done by the COP26? And, as you had found the IPCC report as Code Red, and now the other report, production gap report, says the fossil fuel production….

António Guterres: I’m sorry. I didn’t.

Neil Kamal: For production plans to most governments out of sync with Paris limits. Many of the climate activists are not enthusiastic about the [inaudible 00:20:33] actions being taken to reduce the GHG emissions as per [inaudible 00:20:46] from this much better climate summit.

António Guterres: I’m terribly sorry. I couldn’t understand because the sound is bad. If you don’t mind, I hope Stephane will translate.

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: The question was about the hundred billion dollars. Will it be set a year? Will it be set in COP? And the issue with the emissions gap that right now the targets are not going to … It’s not going to be enough yet.

António Guterres: No, it’s absolutely crucial for, first of all, because the money is needed for developing countries, both in mitigation and adaptation. But, also, it’s absolutely essential from the point of view of rebuilding trust between developed countries and developing countries. And one of the problems that we face in today’s world is that that trust has been eroded by the vaccine problem, by the inequitable recovery that the international financial circumstances have created. And now, of course, the question of $100 billion. So the $100 billion, a credible presentation of how the $100 billion will materialize is in my opinion a fundamental condition to rebuild trust between developed countries and developing countries. And that condition will, of course, also create the conditions for developing countries to be able to do more in their efforts of both mitigation, adaptation. Now, in relation to the emissions gap, there will be a report soon about the emissions gap.

António Guterres: I cannot anticipate the exact figures now, but it is clear that we have an emissions gap, and it is clear that everybody must do more. You are from India, and whenever I speak with Indian leaders, they always say that the Paris agreement establishes a principle of common but differentiated responsibilities according to national capabilities, which is true. That means that developed countries need to lead. But, at the present moment, emerging economies must also go an extra mile because, if emerging economies … because of their volume today in the global economy … do not go that extra mile, then the objectives of Paris will not be reachable. So everybody needs to do more. This is the moment for maximum ambition, north and south, east and west.

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: Thank you. Next question to James Bayes, Al Jazeera. James?

James Bayes: Thank you, Secretary General. Exactly one month ago at the UN General Assembly, you said, “We are weeks away from the UN Climate Conference, but seemingly light years away from reaching our targets.” Now, we’re just 10 days out from Glasgow, and you sound just as pessimistic. Are you getting increasingly desperate?

António Guterres: I think I said I am extremely worried, but still hopeful, and that is exactly what I feel at the present moment. And I am determined to do everything I can to try to make things happen positively. But, indeed, the progress in the recent weeks has not been enough. We are getting closer and closer. I hope that, because we have key moments from now to Glasgow … The most important is the G20 meeting. I hope that we are still on time to avoid a failure in Glasgow, but time is running short, and things are getting more difficult. And that is why I am very, very worried. I’m afraid things might get wrong.

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: Okay. Roku Goda, Asahi Shimbun, Japan.

Roku Goda: Secretary General, thank you for taking your time.The UNFCCC was established in 1992, almost 30 years ago. I think it is safe to say that countries are still not fully committed to tackling climate change. Why has the debate been going on for so long? And what do you think will be the significance of this conference?

António Guterres: Well, the debate lasted too long for a very simple reason: until very recently, I would say until probably seven years ago, there was not an effective conscience at the level of the global public opinion that we were really moving towards a disaster. And the lobby of the economic interests, namely the lobby of the greenhouse, of the fossil fuels, engaged in a very strong campaign, as you might remember, putting into question the scientific discoveries about climate change, saying that things were not like that, even finding some scientists able to corroborate their ideas, I don’t know, thanks to what mechanisms.

António Guterres: Like the tobacco industry did for many years, explaining to the people that tobacco was not dangerous, that, well, so, indeed, the wake up call came very late and, when the wake up call came, things started to accelerate. And this led to the Paris Agreement. But I would say that, even after the Paris Agreement, things moved slowly.

António Guterres: I was in Katowice. It was a very difficult negotiation. I was in Madrid; it was a disaster. Things were moving slowly. And only more recently, I think there was this kind of upheaval in which civil society use, but especially the private sector, the private sector started to be very clear that we were going in the wrong direction. We have now a Glasgow Alliance of asset owners and, I mean, insurances, pension funds, representing $90 trillion that committed to net zero in 2050.

António Guterres: Now, those that now have assets are understanding that the bet that will be profitable in the future is the bet in the green economy, not the bet in the brown economy. It’s not in coal that will make money. It is in solar that it will make money. Solar is today cheaper than coal, so the technological evolution, the wake up call in the private sector, and the upheaval in the public opinion, and especially led by the youth, have finally created I would say in the last two years a very clear conscience that we are really on the verge of the abyss. So it took time. My hope is that we are not too late.

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: Thank you. William Brangham, PBS News. William?

William Brangham: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary General, for doing this. I have a question about enforcement. As you’ve been describing, Paris set very bold goals, but it was largely voluntary and we’ve seen emissions continue to rise, temperatures continue to rise. Would you like to see some more strict enforcement mechanisms so that if COP26 is a success and nations do make pledges, that there’s some way that they can be held to account and to be held to actually doing what they say they will do?

António Guterres: Well, what I would like was a treaty with an enforcing mechanism, but that is an illusion that obviously cannot materialize. So what we have is the Paris Agreement. As you said, it’s a voluntary agreement. There is a crucial question that I think we will be able to achieve if there is political will, which is full transparency in the way the performance of each country is measured. But I do not see the capacity of the international community to establish in a mandatory way a system of rewards and penalties for countries based on their performance.

António Guterres: I would like to have it, but I don’t think the world is prepared for that. The problem, I said it many times, our solutions for the challenges we face require a multilateral approach, but our multilateralism has no teeth. We will need teeth in the multilateralism and a will to bite, and unfortunately in the Paris Agreement, there is no teeth. But I hope that at least there will be enough transparency to allow everything to be clear. An agreement is still necessary on that, as you know, to allow for, at least in relation to the global public opinion, countries to be accountable.

William Brangham: Thank you.

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: We’ll now go to Sophia Smith Galer from Vice World Media. Sophia?

Sophia Smith Galer: Good afternoon, Secretary General. My question is, do you think the UNFCCC has done enough to ensure that there will be visibility and inclusion of Indigenous voices at COP26? Of course, they comprise less than 5% of the world’s population, but protect 80% of global biodiversity. And how do you respond to claims from Indigenous activists and environmental campaigners who say that application processes and governmental delegations have excluded them from this?

António Guterres: Well, I must say that my experience of many years, especially as a commissioner for refugees going around the world, has demonstrated that nature-based solutions are the best way to address environmental problems, including climate problems, and that indeed, Indigenous communities have been guardians of our planet in many of the situations I had the chance to visit in the past. I think there are several limitations in relation to this COP because of the COVID. I would like to see Indigenous communities strongly represented. I will check to see if there is still something we can do. I’m talking to the British presidency on that because indeed, I believe the voice of Indigenous communities is extremely important.

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: Thank you. David Schechter, WFAA in Dallas. David?

David Schechter: Thank you, sir. Thank you. Texas is the largest emitter of carbon dioxide in this country. They’re the largest producer of oil and gas and we have a state government that doesn’t even mention the two words, ‘climate change.’ How important is the participation of a state like Texas for the world to achieve its goals? And how do you encourage participation from a state that’s so entrenched in the carbon economy?

António Guterres: Well, Texas is prosperous today because Texas is based on what was the main factor of wealth and power in last century: oil and gas. What we are seeing is that with things changing, the green economy will tend to be preponderant in the future, and that is why asset managers are shifting their portfolios from fossil fuels to different aspects of the green economy. So if Texas wants to be prosperous in 2050 or 2070, Texas will have to diversify its economy, and Texas will have to be less dependent on oil and gas, and Texas will have to be—and it has all the conditions to be because of the weather in Texas—a leading state in renewable energy in the US.

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: Thank you. Carolyn Beeler from The World

Carolyn Beeler: Yes, hi. Thank you, Secretary General. You’ve called for more climate finance to be dedicated to adaptation instead of just mitigation. At the Climate Summit, developing countries are going to be pushing for finance, not just for adaptation and mitigation, but also for loss and damage, which has been a contentious issue in the past. Do you support financing for loss and damage to be required as a category of climate finance through the Paris Agreement framework?

António Guterres: You were speaking about transition? Just transition, was it?

Carolyn Beeler: Financing for loss and damage. Do you support climate finance to be dedicated to loss and damage? So losses and destruction that developing countries are already experiencing.

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: It’s the issue of loss and damage.

António Guterres: Ah, that’s a different story. One thing is the amounts of money that are necessary in order to support developing countries in adaptation, in mitigation, and in just transition. The question of loss and damage is a different question, and it is a question in which there has been a huge resistance of developed countries to seriously discuss it in the COP. I believe that it would be good if in Glasgow, there will be some progress. I have not the illusion that the problems will be solved, but I think it would be important to have some progress in relation to the loss and damage, because that is very important for the developing countries, especially the most vulnerable ones.

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: Thank you. Sachiyo Sugita from NHK, Japan.

Sachiyo Sugita: Hello. Thank you, Secretary General. I would like to ask about the coal policy. What do you expect from a country like Japan when trying to reach a net zero in 2050? And we’ve shown tracks to stop financing coal plants abroad, but we still don’t have ambitious solutions on domestic policies. I would like to ask about your opinions.

António Guterres: Well, Japan took the decision not to finance coal abroad. That’s a positive thing. Japan told me that no more coal power plants would be built in Japan. That’s another positive thing. Japan has committed to net zero in 2050. It’s a positive thing. Japan has promised a meaningful reduction, even if it is a little bit below the level that we have recommended, because usually, the comparisons are difficult because of the dates that are defined. So if we look into 2030 versus 2010, the Japanese proposal is below 45%, it’s probably 41 or something of the sort, so we would like to see enhanced national determined contributions from Japan.

António Guterres: But I have to recognize that in the past few months, Japan has made enormous progress, and I hope that this progress will move forward and that the concrete measures taken to implement these commitments will be effective. There is a central question now. We talk about 2050, it’s too far away. We talk about 2030, it’s still relatively far away. So it’s very important that countries present credible programs with measures starting now to demonstrate that those objectives will be reachable. And that question of credibility will become, I believe, if we reach the right targets in the commitments made, the question of credibility will become the central question for climate action.

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: …Okay. We’ll try Mariana Grilli from Revista Globo. Mariana?

Mariana Grilli: Well, hello everyone. I hope you’re listening to me.

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: Yes. We can hear you.

António Guterres: You can speak in Portuguese.

Mariana Grilli: [Asks question in Portuguese and António Guterres answers in Portuguese]

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: Maybe, sir, since we had no Portuguese interpretation, if I could ask you, the question was on the forest as far as I understood it, and the Amazon. If I could translate in English. Thank you.

António Guterres: It was basically to say that forests are an extremely important component in climate action, that we must make sure that forests are not disappearing, and that on the contrary, all forests are preserved. And not only all forests are preserved, but new forests are planted, and of course, the contribution of Brazil is extremely important so it’s essential that the forest in the Amazon be preserved, because it is a very important contribution from Brazil to global climate action.

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: Thank you. We’ll go now to Manka Behl of India. Manka, can you hear us?

Manka Behl: Hello. Thank you, Mr. Secretary General. Am I audible?

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: Perfect.

Manka Behl: Yeah. [inaudible 00:41:44] highly polluted and developing countries will achieve net zero emissions by committing to phasing out of coal. Yet new coal projects are lined up and finance in coal is on the rise. What is your message for the government of developing countries from coal to clean energy take place, considering the fact that a large population of the country is dependent on energy generated from coal-fired power plants?

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: The question was, what is your message to developing countries that rely on coal?

António Guterres: It’s a double message. First of all, today, in the majority of the situations in the world, to produce energy in a new solar plant, including the investment of the solar power plant, is cheaper than keeping a coal plant working. And in all countries, solar energy is cheaper than coal energy, coal-produced energy. So, if a country invests in coal for the future, that country is building stranded assets. It will be building white elephants that in a few years time will I’m sure not working. And those countries have not enough resources to waste them. So I think it’s important to recognize that those countries need to increase their electrical production, because sometimes many of those countries have not covered the entirety of the population, and we want energy for all, and electric energy for all is essential. And so, we have been appealing to several developed countries, and this is something that needs to be done on a case by case basis to establish forms of cooperation.

António Guterres: It has happened in South Africa. I know that there is a cooperation now between the United States and India, the same with Indonesia. I think it is important to have forms of cooperation, both financial and technical cooperation, allowing those countries that are still very dependent on coal to create the conditions to accelerate their transition. Coal is an investment that is condemned. To invest in coal is a decision that is economically wrong and without future.

António Guterres: In the circumstances in which a country has a huge dependency, it is necessary that developed countries support them, in order to allow for a just transition to take place. And I know that several of these operations are taking place or being prepared, and I’ve encouraged developed countries to make coalitions to support countries that still rely too much on coal, to be able to accelerate their transitions.

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: Thank you. We will now go to Serena Marshall of NowThis. Serena.

Serena Marshall: Thank you, Mr. Secretary General. So as I’m sure you’re aware, today the US released a series of reports warning climate change threatens global security. And still, as we’ve heard you discuss, how leading superpowers plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels outlined in 2030 international agreements. How concerned are you, and how concerned should future generations be, for the potential of increased conflict and being saddled with a future war, or global war, that is essentially predictable?

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: The issue of climate and conflict, and how concerned future generations should be about conflicts driven by climate change?

António Guterres: Well, even today, climate change is an accelerator in several areas of the world of the conflict risks. If you look at the Sahel, we cannot say that the conflict in the Sahel is only due to climate change. Of course, there are many other reasons: political reasons, reasons linked to the expansion of terrorism, reasons linked to interethnic conflicts and religious conflicts. But the truth is that in the Sahel, there is a central problem of farmers and herders. And when water resources dwindle, the competition between farmers and herders becomes a very tough one.

António Guterres: And if on top, farmers and herders belong to different ethnic groups, and on top of that they have different religions, and I am giving you situations that are real in several parts of the African continent, then it is obvious that climate change is an accelerator of the factors of conflict. We cannot say that all conflicts in the world are due to climate change, but it is true that climate change is a multiplier of many other negative things that happen in the world.

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: Thank you. We have time for one more question from Luciana [Gurge, MediaTalks, Brazil] Luciana, let’s try again to connect…

Luciana Gurge: Okay, Mr. Secretary, my question is about your concern regarding the President of Brazil not attending. I know he is not the only one, but it’s been very hard for the Brazilians to see this. What’s your concern about him not attending? What would be your expectation with what Brazil will do during the meeting? And what will be your hope for Brazil?

António Guterres: Well I do not interfere in the political debate inside Brazil. What I want is that the Brazilian delegation in Glasgow is able to participate constructively in the negotiation about Article 7, because the negotiation about Article 7 is a negotiation in which we have on one side essentially Brazil, India, China, that have as you know lots of credits from the Kyoto period. There are a number of discussions with both developed countries and small island developing states that believe that if those credits will be still valid, this will have a negative impact on their situation. This is a conflict, a complex negotiation. This negotiation has failed in Katowice, it has failed in Madrid. I hope that the Brazilian, as the others’ delegations, will have a constructive approach to allow for Article 7 that establishes the global carbon market to be finally approved. This is my best wish in relation to Brazil for Glasgow.

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: Thank you. We will now turn it over to Mark Hertsgaard for some closing words, and thank you. Mark.

Mark Hertsgaard: Thank you Stephane so much, and thank you Mr. Secretary General again for your time today. We have to leave it there. We look forward, I say this to my colleagues, we look forward to seeing the stories that you’ll run. Please email us a link to those stories when they are posted or broadcast, and you can email us at editors@coveringclimatenow.org. Editors@coveringclimatenow.org. A couple of quick housekeeping notes, don’t miss our next press conference next Tuesday with COP26 President Alok Sharma.

Mark Hertsgaard: Again, a press conference only for Covering Climate Now partners, and you must RSVP in advance. That’s next Tuesday, October 26th, at 12:00 noon US Eastern Time. Go to our website, coveringclimatenow.org, and you will find the RSVP slot and further information. Also, Covering Climate Now is hosting an additional COP26 background briefing. That’s next Thursday, October 28th, at 11:00 AM US Eastern Time. We’ve got some terrific panelists talking about deep dives into some of the critical issues of COP26. That’s next Tuesday, October 26th, at 12:00 noon US Eastern.

Mark Hertsgaard: And finally, on a happier note, Covering Climate Now sends out a warm invitation to any journalists who are covering COP26 in person, in Glasgow. Covering Climate Now is organizing an informal happy hour at a local pub in Glasgow. Please drop by. All journalists are invited, but especially you, Covering Climate Now journalists, we hope you’ll stop by and get to know one another in person. Again, check our website for details. Thank you again for attending today’s press conference, and for being part of Covering Climate Now. I’m Mark Hertsgaard, wishing everyone a good day on the road to Glasgow.

António Guterres: May I just say a final word?

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: Straight ahead. This way, if you look straight.

António Guterres: May I say a final word? Not as Secretary General of the United Nations, but as a citizen of the world, and as a father and grandfather—it is a word of thanks for what you are doing, and for your work. Your work in a world where sometimes we are afraid that we see the end or the death of truth, I think your work in bringing truth to the debate on the future of our planet is an extremely important one, and I thank you very much for that.

Mark Hertsgaard: Thank you indeed, sir.

Stephane Dujarric De La Riviere: Thank you.