Declaring Era of Consumption without Consequences Over, Secretary-General Commends Paris Climate Agreement Signatories for Making Historic Pledge to Protect Planet

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22 April 2016

Declaring Era of Consumption without Consequences Over, Secretary-General Commends Paris Climate Agreement Signatories for Making Historic Pledge to Protect Planet

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the signature ceremony for the Paris Agreement, in New York today:

Last December in Paris, the international community adopted the world’s first universal climate agreement.  Every country pledged to curb emissions and strengthen resilience to potentially devastating climate impacts.

Today, at least 172 Governments have gathered here to sign the Paris Agreement.  Stand back and take this in for just a moment.

This is history.  This is the largest number of countries ever to sign an international agreement on a single day.

I congratulate all those  that are signing this morning.  I especially commend the 15 parties that are also expected to deposit their instruments of ratification and I would like to recognize them by name:  Barbados, Belize, Fiji, Grenada, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Nauru, Palau, Palestine, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Somalia and Tuvalu.

“L’esprit de solidarite de Paris vive encore.”

We are breaking records in this Chamber, and that is good news.  But, records are also being broken outside.  Record global temperatures.  Record ice loss.  Record carbon levels in the atmosphere.

We are in a race against time.  I urge all countries to move quickly to join the agreement at the national level so that the Paris Agreement can enter into force as early as possible.

The window for keeping global temperature rise well-below 2°C, let alone 1.5°C, is rapidly closing.  The era of consumption without consequences is over.

We must intensify efforts to decarbonize our economies and we must support developing countries in making this transition.  The poor and most vulnerable must not suffer further from a problem they did not create.

Let us never forget — climate action is not a burden; indeed, it offers many benefits.  It can help us eradicate poverty, create green jobs, defeat hunger, prevent instability and improve the lives of girls and women.  Climate action is essential to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Many people contributed to the COP21 [twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] negotiations in Paris and to the preparations for this event.  I acknowledge their tireless efforts, particularly the work of the UNFCCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] Secretariat.

Today is a day that I have worked towards since day one as Secretary-General of the United Nations and declared climate change to be my top priority.  Today, you are signing a new covenant with the future.

This covenant must amount to more than promises.  It must find expression in actions we take today on behalf of this generation and all future generations, actions that reduce climate risk and protect communities, actions that place us on a safer, smarter path.

This morning, we will be joined by 197 children, representing the parties that adopted the Paris Agreement.  Of course, they represent more than this.  These young people are our future.  Our covenant is with them.

Today is a day for our children and grandchildren, and all generations to come.  Together, let us turn the aspirations of Paris into action.  As you show by the very act of signing today, the power to build a better world is in your hands.

Thank you very much for your leadership and commitment.  Merci beaucoup.

For information media. Not an official record.