In 2018, the world received a stark wake-up call when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C. The Panel’s research told us that time is running out to minimize extreme weather events, species loss, water scarcity and many other climate impacts that endanger lives, economies and livelihoods.
UN Environment’s Emissions Gap research tells us we need to increase our ambition five-fold to meet the 1.5°C target. This may seem unrealistic. But as this Annual Report shows, the solutions to climate change and other pressing environmental issues are available. We just need to push harder.
2019 presents many opportunities to increase ambition. We have my climate summit in September. We have continued work on making the Paris Agreement fit for purpose. We have the entry into force of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which can avert 0.4°C of warming by reducing the use of greenhouse gases in the cooling industry. We also have the fourth United Nations Environment Assembly in March 2019.
A key focus of the Assembly is resource efficiency. Doing more with less can positively affect not only climate change but the depletion of natural resources and the pollution of air, water and land—all issues of grave concern that UN Environment pushed hard on in 2018. I urge Member States to use the Assembly to make new commitments and use the organization’s expertise to reshape their economies.
UN Environment has been, and will continue to be a crucial actor in supporting nations to deliver on their environmental commitments. In 2019, I fully expect the organization to continue this transformative work and help steer the world towards a more sustainable track.