Press Release: The UN Climate Action Summit Must Be A Game Changer for Climate

19 September 2019

Civil society expects world leaders to come with stronger emission targets, processes to build resilience and tackle climate impacts, and commitments to shift the trillions that will enable poor countries to cope with loss and damage and set forth the energy transition

Thursday 19 September 2019 

Tele-press briefing recording:

New York – Our house is on fire. Hurricanes, fires, cyclones and other impacts are hitting hard in every corner of the world. Countries must extinguish the fire sparked by global warming through bolder targets, support for impacted people and doubling finance to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to enable poor communities to cope with climate change and transition to clean renewable energy.

The UN Climate Action Summit in New York is an important stop in the journey to crucial zero carbon economies. CAN members expect it to be a stepping stone to transformational change. Governments must demonstrate that they are responding adequately to the climate emergency. The UN Climate Summit is an important moment to honor multilateralism and the calls made by Secretary General Antonio Guterres for stronger ambition.

Consecutive scientific reports are sounding the alarm. The window to act is closing. Current targets take us to 3o C or 4o C warming, which ends any chance for human and other species’ survival. We are seeing deadly impacts at only 1o C . All countries must half emissions by 2030 to keep warming below 1.5o C and they have a year to develop the policy tools to operationalize decarbonization.

Vulnerable people, especially women and girls, are paying the heaviest price for a crisis caused by polluting economies. Rich countries hold the moral responsibility to support those affected by 2 impacts through innovative sources of finance and commitments in the order of at least USD50 billion per year by 2022.”

Climate finance is key to achieving justice. The trillions must shift from financing dirty fossil fuels to energy transition implemented at minimal social costs to workers. Wealthy countries must double their contributions to the GCF and drive progress to meet the finance goal of US$100 billion per year by 2020.

Governments have been lending their ears to powerful corporations in the fossil fuel industry. It is time they listen to the young people rising and striking in the streets demanding the end of coal, oil and gas, the energy sources fueling the climate emergency. They are demanding effective action that secures a safe and prosperous future for everyone.

Voices will continue to rise loudly if governments don’t deliver in New York what the Secretary General and people in the streets asked for in line with the science.


Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director, Greenpeace International

“The UN Secretary-General’s asks are clear, and he has set the bar where it must be at this moment in time – high. There’s still time to be surprised by what is delivered on Monday, but unfortunately there are countries actively trying to slow down progress, while others are claiming to be climate leaders but not showing any signs of following through. Multilateralism is never futile — to fix the climate crisis, we need everyone — but the people and youth are increasingly showing the unity, positivity and leadership that is missing at the negotiating table. We’re entering a new era of activism and a new era of accountability for weak governments and the toxic power of the fossil fuel industry. If leaders do fail to deliver at the Summit, they will have to answer to the hundreds of thousands of youth in the streets.”

Sven Harmeling, Global Policy and Climate Lead Climate Change and Resilience, CARE International

“There will be no climate justice and no success at the UN Climate Summit without greater ambition in tackling the climate emergency. Climate impacts are already causing widespread suffering and damage, from the hurricane-hit Caribbean to drought-stricken East Africa and the rising sea level submerging the Pacific islands. The inaction of some is costing us all. At the Summit, governments must commit to pursuing new sources of finance which can generate truly additional money for addressing loss and damage in the order of at least USD50 billion per year by 2022. This is a matter of survival.”

Niranjali Amerasinghe, Executive Director, Action Aid USA

“Rich countries need to commit to much greater financial support for climate action around the world, starting with a doubling of contributions to the Green Climate Fund. Without climate finance, there will not be enough support for people suffering from climate impacts, especially in poorer countries. Without climate finance, there will be no just transition to a sustainable economy. Without climate finance, there will be no climate justice.”

May Boeve, Executive Director,

“The Global Climate Strike begins on September 20th, the politicians gathering in New York at the UN Summit must listen to the children in the streets and start acting like adults in the room. The meeting couldn’t be more important. Its title is “climate action” – what action looks like is increasingly clear it means countries will need to finally talk about the source of the flames engulfing our planet: fossil fuels. What are their plans for phase out coal, oil, and gas production? When are their deadlines and how will they fund the transition so it's fair? Abolishing fossil fuels has become an increasingly central demand for the global climate movement. It’s what the Global Climate Strikes from September 20-27 will be demanding with actions in over 117 countries.

Tasneem Essop, Interim Executive Director, Climate Action Network

“We are in the fight of our lives. Human survival is at stake. Climate change is a human rights issue. Despite the fact that many governments are tone deaf to the science or actively obstructive against what it’s warning about, they cannot ignore the voices of the people. These voices are growing louder by the day. Civil society across the world are not tolerating inaction. CAN International has set benchmarks for what governments, especially major emitters, will need to put on the table in response to the UN Secretary General’s call for ambitious climate action. The level of ambition must include clear commitments to phase out fossil fuels, especially coal; generate enough money to address loss and damage caused by impacts and to shift the trillions away from dirty and polluting industries towards clean and sustainable sectors. Anything less will not be acceptable. We will hold governments accountable and will continue to keep up the pressure and mobilise until our demands for climate justice, in line with the science, are met.”

Contact: Hala Kilani, Senior Communications Officer, CAN / whatsapp +961 3 567928

About CAN Climate Action Network (CAN) is a global network of over 1100 NGOs in more than 120 countries working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. More information on


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