– As delivered –

Statement by H.E. Tijjani Muhammad Bande, President of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

17 December 2019

Excellencies,

Distinguished Delegates,

 I would like to commend the leadership of Chile and Spain for hosting a dynamic COP 25, and for convening us here today to re-group and reflect on events of the past week and identify how best to move forward.

This demonstration of partnership and solidarity is an example of the strength of multilateralism. We must all emulate this resolve moving forward in order to successfully tackle the climate emergency.

Excellencies,

Over 27,000 people registered to participate in a dialogue on the fundamental threat facing the world. The energy in Madrid was palpable. There was engagement with a range of stakeholders who spoke of solutions, innovations, and partnerships for scaling up climate action and ambition.

Once again, I spoke with young people to learn more about their concerns and their own recommendations. I assure you, youth have been very clear on ho0w the urgency should be tackled.

The Chile Madrid Time for Action encouraged Parties to be more ambitious and to scale up commitments to reduce emissions and build resilience. This is what is required if we are to limit emissions. We must increase nationally determined contributions (NDCs) three-fold to limit to the target of peak emissions of 2°C.

Parties reiterated the commitment made by developed countries to mobilize $100 billion by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries. Sentiment will not save our brothers and sisters from the effects of climate shocks.

COP 25 was the window of opportunity to demonstrate our clear and unequivocal commitment to increase ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance. It was disheartening nonetheless that negotiations failed to reach consensus on many key areas of the “rulebook” of the Paris Agreement. 

We can only change course by taking multilateral action now. All of us must endeavour to align our actions with our commitments, as we move forward. We must continue to work together to push through on common commitments to reach carbon neutrality and a cap of 1.5°C temperature rise to deliver a better world for all. 

Excellencies,

The scientific evidence we have been presented with is unequivocal: current trends of global emissions will cause further warming and human beings will face severe and extreme weather events.  Land degradation, loss of biodiversity, forests and ecosystems; pollution and acidification of oceans and the loss of coastal habitats have become ‘the new normal’.

We are approaching the point of no return. As hunger rises globally, extreme weather threatens the world’s food supply at a time when it is already stretched. We must take action if we are to combat this crisis which is exacerbated by droughts, floods and others

Furthermore, we are nearing tipping points regarding desertification and biodiversity. Over 100 species are becoming extinct. Current negative trends in biodiversity and ecosystem will undermine progress towards 80% of assessed SDG targets relating to poverty, hunger, health, water, cities, climate, oceans and land, and undermines the long-term resilience of the world’s most vulnerable people.

This decade will determine our fate and that of future generations.

The effects of the climate emergency are not limited to one area of our work, as such our response must be holistic where all stakeholders participate fully.

2020 is a milestone year for the planet as we focus on climate and nature, we must work to further understand and communicate the importance of a stable climate and the climate solutions which nature can offer us.

We must do more to reduce the widening gap between our progress and our aspirational Global Goals to limit warming. Upcoming NDC announcements have the potential to bolster our defence in the climate emergency, I hope that the ambition will match the severity of the crisis.

In 2020 we will hold three mandated meetings which will be rooted in ‘nature’, namely: the Oceans Conference in Lisbon which will be preceded by a preparatory meeting in February; the high-level dialogue on desertification; and the Biodiversity Summit.

Later this week, I will announce the co-facilitators who will engage with you on the date and modalities for the Biodiversity Summit. I trust that they will have your full support as we build political momentum towards the Convention on Biological Diversity COP15.

We can only change course by taking multilateral action now. All of us must endeavour to align our actions with our commitments, as we move forward. We must continue to work together to push through on common commitments to reach carbon neutrality and a cap of 1.5°C temperature rise to deliver a better world for all. 

Tijjani Muhammad Bande

President of the UN General Assembly

Excellencies,

In Madrid, there was a resounding call that it was “Time to Act Now!” I reiterate this call to Member States to take climate action, reduce emissions and commit to creating a climate-resilient world to safeguard the people we serve.

Consider me your partner on SDG 13: Climate Action. I am confident that if we galvanise multilateral action now, we will rise to the challenge.

I thank you.