The UN Climate Action Summit – a missed opportunity

In response to the UN Climate Action Summit, IIED director Andrew Norton said:
Press release, 25 September 2019

“The summit did not go far enough. The science is clear – we cannot exceed a 1.5°C temperature rise. It is time to ditch the 2°C target. Despite being a key opportunity for all leaders to show they had got the message and would take action that reflected the urgency the climate emergency demands, many rich and historically responsible governments fell short.

“The Least Developed Countries showed true leadership by declaring determined commitments to get on to a climate-resilient pathway by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Despite hundreds of new initiatives announced with billions of dollars attached, most are not responding to what the people living in climate vulnerable areas say they need. Instead, they are being determined by international partners and donors.

“Although many rich countries pledged to double the finance for the Green Climate Fund, to be effective it must include fundamental reforms to make sure more money is directed to the local level and the poorest countries can directly access it.

“There is a lot to do between now and 2020. Leaders need to roll up their sleeves and update their plans in time for the UN climate summit in Glasgow, at the latest. Governments must ensure that every policy they have – including for aid, trade and agriculture – is in line with tackling climate change. With national pledges as they stand, the world is heading for 3°C rise by the end of the century, with catastrophic implications.

“The voices of children have not yet been heard by the powerful, and the implications of the science have not been taken on board. Leaders need to go further and faster and the next year must not be wasted.”


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Beth Herzfeld, IIED head of media, on +44 (0)7557 658 482 or email

Notes to editors

  • Read more about the Least Developed Countries Group's 2050 Vision
  • IIED estimates less than 10% – US$1 in $10 – of the $17 billion climate finance committed from international climate funds by 2016 were prioritised for local-level activities. Read ‘Delivering real change: getting international climate finance to the local level
  • The LDCs only experience one in five of the extreme climate events; they suffer seven in 10 of the deaths from these disasters. Read 'Time to redress the globally unjust cost of climate change'
  • In its latest report, IIED shows that struggling families in rural Bangladesh spend almost $2 billion a year on preventing climate related disasters or repairing damage caused by climate change. This is twice as much as the Bangladesh government and nearly 12 times the amount Bangladesh receives in multilateral international climate financing in absolute terms, according to the latest data. Read ‘Bearing the climate burden: how households in Bangladesh are spending too much
  • IIED is a policy and action research organisation. It promotes sustainable development to improve livelihoods and protect the environments on which these livelihoods are built. IIED specialises in linking local priorities to global challenges. Based in London, UK it works in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific, with some of the world's most vulnerable people to strengthen their voice in the decision-making arenas that affect them – from village councils to international conventions.

For more information or to request an interview, contact Simon Cullen: 
+44 7503 643332 or