Nov 20, 2023 - Energy & Environment

UN secretary general heads to Antarctica on pre-COP28 climate visit

An iceberg is seen on ocean on Dec. 18, 2019 in Antarctica. (Photo by Zheng Xianzhang/VCG via Getty Images)

UN Secretary-General António Guterres is embarking on a trip to Antarctica beginning Monday, where he aims to see climate change impacts up close.

Why it matters: Guterres, who favors aggressive emissions cuts to planet-warming greenhouse gases, is likely to use the trip as a springboard to his discussions with world leaders at the COP28 Climate Summit in Dubai.

  • He plans to fly to Chile first, then visit the country's Frei Base early this week.

Between the lines: The official revealed the trip in comments responding to a major new UN climate analysis out Monday morning.

  • In his response to the 2023 Emissions Gap Report, Guterres laid out his criteria for a successful outcome at COP28, where countries will consider the needs for a more stringent round of commitments to cut emissions.
  • Specifically, Guterres advocates for countries to commit to tripling renewables capacity, doubling energy efficiency and bringing "clean power to all" by 2030.
  • Guterres is in favor of new emissions reduction targets that include time frames for a fossil fuel phase out.

Context: Guterres won't be the first secretary general to visit Antarctica during their term. Former UN leader Ban Ki-moon also visited the icebound continent during his time in office.

  • Parts of Antarctica has seen rising temperatures in recent years, with the pace of ice melt quickening. Some studies have shown that parts of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet are already in an "unavoidable" decline.

What they're saying: "I will take my experiences to COP where I will call for action that matches the scale of the crisis we face," Guterres said in comments Monday morning.

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