4 May 2014
Secretary-General
SG/SM/15819
ENV/DEV/1427

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Inaction on Climate Change Threatens Global Prosperity, Secretary-General Warns


‘ Abu Dhabi Ascent’ Forum, Saying Solutions Already Exist


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the opening plenary of the “Abu Dhabi Ascent”, in Abu Dhabi today:


I thank the United Arab Emirates for hosting this important meeting and for being pioneers on the journey to a low-carbon future.  It is the future we need and we have to lay the foundations by today.  We have little time to lose.


Climate change is the defining issue of our time.  The effects are already wide-spread, costly and consequential — from the tropics to the poles, from small islands to large continents, and from the poorest countries to the wealthiest.  If we do not take urgent action, all our plans for increased global prosperity and security will be undone.  That is why it is important that Governments complete a meaningful new climate agreement by 2015 that will rapidly reduce emissions and support resilience.


The climate summit I will convene in New York on 23 September is designed to shape a collective ambitious vision anchored in concrete action.  I am inviting Heads of State and Government, along with mayors and senior representatives from business, finance and civil society, to join a “race to the top”.  I am asking them to announce bold commitments and actions that will catalyse the transformative change we need.


The summit will focus on solutions.  It will provide a high-visibility platform for those who are ready to lead so they can invite others to follow.  Our meeting here in Abu Dhabi is a major milestone on the ascent to the summit.  It gives you a chance to experience the wealth of opportunity that exists so you can leave here ready to join others in acting.


We have identified nine key areas with the greatest potential for fast, meaningful results.  They include energy, cities and transport, finance, resilience, agriculture and short-lived climate pollutants.


Many of the solutions we need already exist.  Many others are being rapidly developed.  But, we need to deploy them at a scale that matches the challenge.  And we need to do it now, because we may not get a second chance.


We are rapidly approaching dangerous thresholds.  The longer we delay, the more we will pay.  Governments have promised new climate agreement next year in Paris.  We need to help by proving that climate action now means opening a world of opportunity.  The benefits of addressing climate change include reduced pollution, improved public health, fewer disasters, less poverty, cleaner, more efficient and affordable energy, better managed forests, liveable cities and increased food security.


These are not distant dreams.  Around the world, there is a growing vanguard preparing to make them tomorrow’s reality.  But, realizing the benefits of climate action will demand global cooperation, especially in the areas of finance, investment and technology sharing.


Developing countries are the most vulnerable to climate impacts.  They are also where emissions are rising fastest.  These countries need support to build their own low-carbon futures.  They have a pressing need for development and economic growth.  But, their sustainable progress — and that of the world — demands they jump directly to the clean, resilient economies of the future that will drive lasting prosperity for all.


This meeting is about that future.  Over the next two days, you will share what you are doing and planning.  You will forge new and broader partnerships.  And you will return home with an important message for your political leaders, business and finance networks, consumers and voters.  That message is clear and simple — climate action is feasible, affordable and beneficial.


Change is in the air.  Solutions exist.  The race is on.  It’s time to lead.


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For information media • not an official record