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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

New York (USA)

21 September 2009

Remarks at opening ceremony for "Climate Week NYC" [at New York City Library]

Former Prime Minister Blair,
Minister [Connie] Hedegaard [of Denmark]
Mr. Todd Stern, [lead negotiator, United States]
Mr. Xie Zhenhua, [lead negotiator, China]
Mr. Shri Jairam Ramesh, [lead negotiator, India]
Ladies and gentlemen,

This first-ever Climate Week NY°C is a welcome addition to all our calendars. I hope it is but the first of many in years to come. I thank all involved in making it possible.

I commend your efforts to bring together voices from all sectors of society. We need your voices. These voices have to be heard by all our leaders and all our negotiators

Civic organizations. Faith groups. Businesses. Governments.

Collective action is crucial for meeting the climate challenge.

You are here to declare your support for a fair, ambitious and effective new climate agreement in Copenhagen.

I hope your voices ring all the way to First Avenue, where tomorrow, I am convening the largest-ever climate change summit in history. We expect some 100 Heads of State and Government to participate.

Climate week NY°C has already done a great deal to raise awareness about the urgent need for climate action. We have a broad coalition of organizers to thank:

  • Our co-hosts, Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Steve Howard, the CEO of the Climate Group.
  • Even though Mayor Bloomberg is not here today, he has been a strong supporter and we have been working together on this. Perhaps one day we will have to change New York's nickname from “The Big Apple” to “The Big Green Apple.”
  • My thanks go also to the influential government leaders, negotiators and individuals who join me on stage today. Your leadership is crucial.
  • Thanks to Kumi Naidoo, Chairperson of the “tcktcktck” Campaign.
  • I also appreciate the many businesses represented here today. You understand that an effective deal on climate also makes good, long-term business sense.
  • And thanks as always to the United Nations Foundation, Senator Tim Wirth, for your support for the summit and on so many other issues.

I also express my thanks to the International Advertising Association for spearheading the “Hopenhagen” campaign in support of a global climate deal this year.

The United Nations is grateful for your contributions, and for those made by all our private sector partners. Your collective efforts are vital for generating greater public awareness on climate change.


Earlier this month I visited the Arctic. I could see the glaciers melting. It was a frightening experience for me.

The consequences reverberate far beyond the North Pole.

Millions of people will be affected, from this generation forward

The aim of tomorrow's summit is for leaders to mobilize the political momentum that can accelerate the pace of negotiations and help strengthen the ambition of what is on offer.

A climate agreement will not just safeguard the environment. It can help to fundamentally shift our world toward a greener economy.

All of you understand the seriousness of the threat. You know that we can reduce emissions while cutting poverty.

I am counting on all of you to send a strong message to the summit about the need to seal a deal in Copenhagen.

Thank you for your commitment to creating a safer, healthier and more sustainable future for all.