Secretary-General's remarks at Solar Impulse solar-energy-powered plane event [as delivered]
New York, 9 July 2013
This is a sunny day at the United Nations.
Many people romanticize the sun in music and poetry. Our guests today harness the power of the sun to soar through the skies.
I welcome Solar Impulse on its trip from San Francisco to New York.
Maybe the future Secretary-General, whoever he, or she, may be, will ride a solar-powered plane.
I had an extraordinary opportunity, an honour, to meet the courageous pioneers [Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, founders and co-pilots of “Solar Impulse”] who really made it possible that, when you dream, your dream can be realized one day. I told them that ‘ you are like the Wright [brothers] who really tested whether human beings could fly. And they made it happen. I told them, let’s have a big hope that since you started with this, even though the speed might not be at 600 or 700 miles an hour, but we can make it; it’s a matter of time that people will be flying these fast jets without filling with fuel, gasoline – without producing any greenhouse gas emissions – completely green airplanes and green transportation. They are the pioneers. I really appreciate their courage, and I wish you all not only success, but it will be the success of humanity. You are [making] a great, great contribution.
I am very grateful for all your support, all of you gathered here. I think your support – governmental, business communities and civil societies, private or public support, will mean a great deal for humanity.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Last week, I flew to Iceland. I visited a big glacier which was melting. I saw for myself the real consequences of melting glacier and melting ice and the impact of climate change.
This is a serious threat to our planet. Sea-level rise could wipe out whole cultures and countries. Natural disasters cause trillions of dollars in damage. People are dying from extreme weather events, which are also endangering livelihoods around the world. Smaller catastrophes – local floods, storms and droughts – also take a heavy toll.
I have been on the frontlines of the earth’s climate crisis: in the Arctic, Antarctica, and affected areas in between.
I continue to press for a legally binding climate change agreement for all countries by 2015. Next year, I will convene a high-level summit meeting to pave the way for success.
In the meantime, I have launched the Sustainable Energy for All initiative two years ago.
Like our meeting here today, this effort brings together partners from government, civil society and the private sector.
It has three goals:
First, to provide access to modern sources of energy for all seven billion people, or eight billion people by 2030.
Second, to double the rate of energy efficiency.
And third, to double the share of renewable energy globally.
What they did this time, with this “Solar Impulse” meets all these targets which the United Nations launched two years ago. We are determined to achieve these goals by 2030. I hope that, before 2030, you will be able to fly much faster, much higher.
Solar energy can play an important part in realizing these goals.
The Solar Impulse flight across the United States proves that with ingenuity, we can harness this power for impressive results.
I see several people with the same uniforms; they are all working with you. And I see very dedicated supporters in this room. I really count on you. There is nothing which we cannot do. Many people in history – millennia of our history – people really tried, since thousands of years ago, people were dreaming if we could fly. This is what we are doing now. Even though this innovation has taken a long time, a lot of money, a lot of effort, but I think you have made a giant step forward to the dreams which we are still dreaming to be realized. You have really made a great contribution. You have sent a strong message of hope to many people in the world.
Let us take inspiration from your example and harness the power of multilateralism to address climate challenge and achieve sustainable development through innovating sustainable energy and renewable energy.
With daring and determination, we can fly into a new future. I wish you all the best, and thank you very much.
Statements on 9 July 2013