13 February 2008
That is why, for me personally, it is extremely heartening to see so many leaders from the worlds of investment and philanthropy here tonight. I applaud your commitment to advancing solutions to climate change, as well as your interest in partnering with each other and with the United Nations.
On several occasions in the past year, I have spoken of a silver lining accompanying the dark clouds of climate change. By that, I mean the opportunity to come together to fashion a low-carbon approach to growth and development. The climate-friendly economy is a growth business. It is also a market which promises outsize rewards to its earliest adopters and first-movers.
For its part, the United Nations is committed to tackling climate change head-on. And I am extremely proud of what we have already achieved. Last year, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shared the Nobel Peace Prize for a decades-long effort, which established that climate change was not only occurring, but accelerating. The Panel also spelled out that the costs of inaction would far exceed the costs of action, and it explained the economic rationale and opportunities for action.
Just last month, the eyes of the world were on the United Nations-sponsored climate talks in Bali. We did not disappoint. The Conference delivered what it set out to do: important progress on adaptation, technology and deforestation; and agreement by all countries to launch negotiations on a new international climate change agreement by the end of 2009. A road map was launched towards a new global agreement that will confront climate change more effectively over the long term. The world continues to look to the United Nations to steward this process.
Despite our success, I have no illusions about our ability to win this battle on our own. Climate change is an unprecedented challenge; it requires a comprehensive and global response. It requires all of you.
Climate change is your opportunity to invest in new kinds of cleaner technologies, industries and jobs. Already, investments in renewable energy and efficient energy technologies are increasing. Yet, in most countries, their share of the energy mix remains small. Now, we need to scale up clean energy initiatives dramatically, and over a very short period of time.
In coming decades, trillions of dollars will be spent to replace aging energy infrastructure and build additional capacity. For the sake of our climate, it is imperative that those investments be made in clean, low-carbon technologies. I look to you to lead on these investments, and to push for the innovative financing and technological breakthroughs that are required.
Your presence here suggests that you recognize this opportunity. After all, many of you have thrived in the rough-and-tumble world of business and finance by identifying potential, where others only saw peril.
The carbon market makes good business sense -– it has doubled in size to $60 billion in the past year alone -– and it makes good moral sense.
That is why I hope that you will all join forces, with each other, with your Governments, and with the United Nations. Together, we must invest in the one area that promises the most outsized returns -- our planet’s future. And, by so doing, we must transform the climate change challenge into the climate change revolution.