Momentum of Sustainable Development Agenda Must Continue with ‘Robust Agreement in Paris’, Secretary-General Tells Press

SG/SM/17129-ENV/DEV/1578
27 September 2015

Momentum of Sustainable Development Agenda Must Continue with ‘Robust Agreement in Paris’, Secretary-General Tells Press

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the media after the high-level working lunch on climate change, in New York today:

We have just concluded a fruitful discussion on climate change with a small but representative group of world leaders.

Let me first say a word about our meal.  It was prepared to reflect the importance of agriculture — and food waste in particular — as an often overlooked aspect of climate change.

Food production and agriculture contribute as much to climate change as transportation.  Yet more than a third of all food produced worldwide — over 1 billion tons of edible food each year — goes to waste.  That is shameful when so many people suffer from hunger.

Our lunch was produced from food that would otherwise end up in landfills, emitting methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Our meeting today was not a negotiation, but an informal gathering to inject greater political energy.  Leaders expressed their resolve to finalize a durable, meaningful agreement in Paris that applies to all countries.

Three overarching, political understandings emerged.  These points of convergence must be translated into tangible action.

First, a Paris agreement will need to provide a comprehensive, long-term vision of a world freed of poverty through the opportunities created by the transformation to a low-emission and climate resilient future.  An agreement in Paris and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are mutually supportive and indispensable for this transition.

Second, a Paris agreement must be a turning point that sends a clear signal to citizens and the private sector that the transformation of the global economy is inevitable, beneficial, and already under way.

Leaders voiced broad support for a durable agreement that will accelerate investments in clean energy and spur a global, low-carbon transformation well before the end of the century, consistent with a below 2°C pathway.  There was also consensus that the agreement must strengthen resilience to climate impacts, with a focus on the poorest and most vulnerable.

Leaders agreed that Paris must be the floor, not the ceiling, for collective ambition.  And they agreed that a review process is needed to strengthen national commitments over time in order to limit global temperature rise to below 2°C.  Collectively, national contributions are still not enough.

Third, immediate, concrete and cooperative actions are necessary to turn this long-term vision into reality.  President [François] Hollande will address this third point.  He will also provide further details on what leaders expect in an agreement.

I was pleased to hear leaders pledge to continue working closely with each other and with other leaders to remove political roadblocks.

Several upcoming meetings can help us cross the finish line in Paris.  These include the October meeting of finance ministers in Lima, Peru; the G-20 Summit in Turkey; the Cochabamba Summit; and the Commonwealth Heads of Government in November.  I appeal to all leaders to show flexibility, vision and leadership.

We have just adopted an inspiring new sustainable development agenda.  We must continue the momentum with a robust agreement in Paris.

I now turn to President Hollande and President [Ollanta] Humala for their remarks.  But if you excuse me I have to attend the General Assembly at this time, so I may have to leave.

For information media. Not an official record.