Ban Ki-moon's speeches


Opening remarks at joint press conference following high-level event on climate change

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 24 September 2007

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen of the media. Thank you very much for covering this meeting and climate change, a defining issue of our era.

This has been a ground-breaking, historical event. The leaders of the world have shown that combating climate change needs political leadership at the highest level. This has been the largest-ever meeting of Heads of State and Government on climate change. Over 80 Heads of State and Government came here to discuss the urgency of combating climate change, the biggest challenge to humanity in the twenty-first century. By assembling here at the Headquarters of the United Nations, they have sent a clear signal to the citizens of the world that climate change is getting the attention it deserves.

The high-level event represents a sea-change in the response to climate change. What I heard today is a major political commitment for a breakthrough on climate change in Bali. Science has spoken clearly -- now we need the political answers. We are fast running out of time if we want to avert the most catastrophic consequences the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has projected.

In all discussions today, leaders have indicated that we need to step up the pace. We must urgently begin an inclusive process on a new international climate change deal at Bali. This process needs to cover all aspects of the solution to climate change: adaptation, emission reductions, climate-friendly technologies and the necessary financial architecture.

Leaders have spoken about how climate change has the potential to seriously limit economic and social development and, in some cases, the very survival of their countries. There is an overall realization that not acting now will prove the costliest action in the long term. I found a strong sense that we need to move from a discussion of our differences to focusing on the common ground that will yield progress. This will enable us to move forward at a faster pace and with greater trust.

Many of the challenges can be met with economically sound answers. Leaders have spoken about the need to climate-proof investments.

If today’s meeting indicates a new resolve, it also confirmed that there is still much to do. I want to assure you that the UN system is prepared to continue to do all that is possible to ensure that the international community can properly address the challenges of global warming and to ensure that there is no gap between the end of the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period in 2012 and the new climate change deal.

Climate change is the responsibility of all of us. We cannot treat industrialized and developing nations equally, but we all have to share this responsibility towards our future generations.

Climate change is a global problem, requiring a global solution. This solution should be inclusive, benefiting and encompassing all. To have an inclusive solution, all of us should be more flexible, and all of us should be more innovative, and all of us should do more of what we have already begun to do.

I have here with me Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat, who also stands ready to answer your questions.

I will invite the President of Indonesia, His Excellency Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to share his thoughts as Chair of the Conference.