Secretary-General, at French Diplomatic Meeting, Welcomes Support of 'Climate Ambassadors' in Achieving Global Pact

26 August 2015
SG/SM/17032-ENV/DEV/1548

Secretary-General, at French Diplomatic Meeting, Welcomes Support of 'Climate Ambassadors' in Achieving Global Pact

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at a climate change event for French ambassadors, entitled Semaine des ambassadeurs: Vers l’alliance de Paris pour le climat, in Paris today:

Good morning.  It is a great honour for me to address so many ambassadors of France.  I am delighted that His Excellency Mr. Manuel Pulgar-Vidal has been able to join us at this important time.

There is a certain perception among foreigners about French people.  You love arts, music, food, wine — and holidays.  In New York, I looked for Ambassador [François] Delattre.  He was not there.  I thought he must be enjoying his summer holidays.  Now that I am joining you for this “Semaine des ambassadeurs”, I realize that I have to change my perception of French people.  You work even during the summer without taking vacations!

I know that, as members of the French diplomatic corps, you play a key role in advancing French interests around the world.  But in today’s increasingly interdependent and interconnected world, you are also deeply engaged in promoting global solutions to global challenges.

I wish to thank you for France’s longstanding support for multilateralism and the United Nations.  I commend your steadfast work for peace, human rights and sustainable development around the world.  France is the fourth largest contributor to the Organization’s regular budget and the third largest contributor to the peacekeeping budget.

And, of course, France has also given the world so much wonderful food, film, art and the French language itself — the original language of international diplomacy.  I was especially glad to be invited to attend your gathering this year because of the historic efforts that are under way to chart a new development path for the human family.  France has been deeply engaged in this work.  And, of course, the climate conference in Paris later this year is at the very top of the international agenda. 

I know I speak for many in saying that France is showing exemplary leadership as part of global efforts to tackle the grave threat of climate change.  I would also like to pay credit to the leadership that Peru is also playing.  We have continued to make good progress since the Lima Climate Change Conference in December 2014.

We are now at a stage where the final elements of the new climate agreement are being negotiated.  I expect a bold and meaningful outcome at the Conference of Parties here in Paris in December.  And I know President [François] Hollande and Minister [Laurent] Fabius are doing all in their power to make the Conference a success.

The climate negotiations cap a transformational year for human progress.  In March, the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, agreed on important steps to build more resilient societies. 

In July, the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, in Addis Ababa, revitalized the global partnership for development. 

And earlier this month, in New York, Member States agreed on the final text of an inspiring new development agenda that will guide us through to the year 2030.  World leaders will formally adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development next month.  I look forward to President Hollande’s participation on that occasion.

With 17 sustainable development goals, the agenda provides a comprehensive and integrated path to sustainable development for all people in all countries.  It is a blueprint for ending poverty in all its dimensions without leaving anyone behind.  It recognizes the fundamental links between promoting prosperity and ensuring peaceful societies and respect for human rights.  It advances well-being while protecting our planet.

Climate change is included in the new framework as a stand-alone goal, and it is fully integrated into all of the relevant sustainable development goals. 

Indeed, unless we take urgent action on climate change, we will not achieve sustainable development.

All countries and all sectors of society have a role to play.  Today, I am cautiously optimistic.  Countries representing over 60 per cent of global emissions have submitted their plans for climate action.  Three of the world’s biggest economic powerhouses — China, the European Union and the United States — are committed to low-carbon, climate-resilient growth.  I commend France’s Constitutional Council for its recent decision on an ambitious law on energy transition. 

Sub-national governments are also pursuing ambitious climate action.  In the past year, 17 cities have signed up to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.  The Compact of Mayors, launched at the Climate Summit last year, now numbers 100 cities.  And multi-stakeholder partnerships between cities, business and civil society have been instrumental in moving the climate agenda forward in a number of key areas, such as energy, transport, agriculture and forestry.

All around the world, citizens and forward-thinking businesses leaders are demanding ambitious action on climate change.  That means lower emissions and greater climate resilience.  There is growing awareness at all levels, in all sectors and in all regions that there need not be a trade-off between economic growth and addressing climate change.  These two objectives can be complementary and mutually reinforcing.  There are tremendous opportunities for countries and companies that take the lead in developing clean energy technologies and markets.

On the eve of last year’s Climate Summit, some 400,000 people took to the streets of New York.  They were joined by people in over 160 countries.  I understand that similar marches are being organized in the lead up to COP21, including here in Paris. 

Faith leaders are also using their influence to promote climate action.  At the Sommet des Consciences, organized by the Government of France in July, leaders from different religions and traditions expressed their shared commitment to mobilize their communities.  The recent papal encyclical by His Holiness Pope Francis spoke movingly about the moral imperative to protect the vulnerable and care for our common home.  A recent meeting of Islamic scholars and civil society leaders from 20 countries adopted a bold declaration urging the world’s Muslim communities to make climate change a priority issue.

In the lead-up to Paris, I call on all actors to continue to demand that global leaders act on climate change and secure an ambitious, universal agreement.

In my engagement with leaders, I have made it clear what I believe a meaningful agreement could include.  First, it must send a strong signal that the world is committed to a low-carbon future, and there is no going back.  Second, an agreement must be durable so that it provides the private sector with the predictability and policy frameworks it needs to invest in clean energy and climate-resilient approaches.

Third, it must be flexible so that it can provide incentives and incorporate more ambitious, science-based nationally determined targets over time.  Fourth, it must uphold the principle of equity, support the adaptation needs of developing countries, and demonstrate solidarity with the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable countries.  Fifth, it must include credible, clear mechanisms for measuring, monitoring and reporting progress in a transparent manner on a full range of actions. 

And sixth, credible climate financing is essential.  It is imperative that developed countries provide greater clarity on the public finance component of the $100 billion before Paris, as well as on how they will engage private finance.  I am engaging with leaders from North and South to make sure this goal is met and is considered credible by all.  An agreement must also acknowledge the need for long-term, very significant financing beyond 2020.  And the Green Climate Fund must be up and running, with funds that can be disbursed before Paris.  All these elements must be part of the overall Paris Alliance.

France has a very well developed diplomatic machinery.  I know you are all doing your part, in the countries where you work, in your contacts with leaders and the general public, to promote the outcome we want.  Thank you for those efforts.  Between now and the conference in December, I will continue to count on you to raise awareness, mobilize people for climate action and do everything you can to make the conference a great success. 

This is one of my top priorities, and your support will be crucial.  You might say that I now consider all of you to be climate ambassadors for the United Nations!  Congratulations!

For information media. Not an official record.