Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Remarks at launch of Climate Group Campaign

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, New York (USA), 06 June 2008

Mr. Mayor,


Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour to join you all to mark World Environment Day, and to celebrate the launch of the Climate Group's 'Together' campaign here in New York.

The theme for the year's commemoration asks the international community to kick the CO2 habit and move towards a low-carbon economy. It amounts to an urgent call to global action.

It is up to each one of us to answer this call. Climate change is too big a challenge for any country, corporation, or community to address alone. Instead, it requires a broad coalition acting together for the greater good. This is the simple but powerful appeal of the “Together” campaign. It is also the message that I have for all of you.

Together, we must come up with a solution to climate change that is both long-term and economically viable. A solution that strikes the delicate balance between globally inclusive action and the need to eradicate poverty. A solution that advances green economic growth, including in developing countries, and ensures funding for large-scale adaptation measures.

Last year, at the UN Climate Conference in Bali, nations showed that they are ready to unite on climate change and to deliver such a solution. Discussions on an agreement for global action are currently underway. But one thing is already clear: the world must begin by kicking its carbon habit.

Fortunately, this is not as daunting as it sounds. Scientists have given us many tools to make carbon-based fuels cleaner and more efficient, and they are working on many more. At the same time, we are also becoming much better at harnessing the renewable power of the sun, wind and waves. Due in part to these advances, governments, businesses and civil society are all discovering that the move towards a low-carbon economy, far from costing the Earth, can actually save money and invigorate growth.

We in the UN are acting on this understanding – including right here in New York. The very act of renovating our Headquarters on the East River is a statement about climate change, as we recycle our buildings, rather than tearing them down and rebuilding them. We will act judiciously, with profound concern for energy consumption. The greening of the United Nations Headquarters is an essential, as well as symbolic step, in our mission to preserve our planet for succeeding generations.

The United Nations Environment Programme has recently launched “CN Net”, a climate-neutral network that will assist in formulating a truly global response to the challenges of climate change. Today, UNEP is also launching a report entitled Kick the Habit: The UN Guide to Climate Neutrality that will serve as a how-to guide for low carbon living.

This adds to the many climate resources already available through organizations like The Climate Group and its “Together” campaign. Collectively, they make clear that individuals can halve their daily carbon emissions through some very simple measures.

So there can be no more excuses. Each one of us can take steps that will make a difference. And if we all begin to act, our collective actions will make a big difference.

I applaud the “Together” campaign's contribution to mobilizing us to act. And I encourage individuals and businesses across North America to join this campaign.

On this World Environment Day let us send the message that we are all part of the solution. Let us make clear that we will work together to deliver a low-carbon economy, and a healthy and sustainable environment.

Thank you very much.