30 November 2015

Well-Being of Planet, Future Generations Rests on Decisions Taken in Paris, Secretary-General Says, as Leaders Launch International Solar Alliance

Following are UN Secretary-General’s remarks at the launch of the International Solar Alliance, in Paris today:

I am pleased to join you for the launch of the International Solar Alliance.

In September, Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi and more than 130 other world leaders met at the United Nations in New York to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

At the heart of the new Agenda are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, protect the environment, and promote a life of well-being and dignity for all.  But, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we must address climate change.  That is the challenge — and the opportunity — to be seized here in Paris.

We have one critical, over-arching priority at COP21 (Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change).  Governments must adopt a robust, universal climate change agreement.  The direct, strong engagement of world leaders, including all those assembled here, in resolving the key political issues is essential for success.

We need leadership from all countries, including developing countries, to forge an equitable and ambitious agreement.  A global agreement will send the clear signal that markets need to scale up investments in solar and other clean energies, and to accelerate the low-carbon transformation of the global economy.  With these steps, we can lower global emissions and achieve sustainable energy for all.

An agreement must also provide a long-term vision that anchors the below 2°C goal, and recognizes the imperative to strengthen resilience, particularly in developing countries.  It is time for all countries to follow the path of consensus and meet at a middle ground to secure the common good.  The well-being of future generations, and of our planet, rests on our decisions here in Paris.

In our world we cannot have a perfect agreement.  There are many unresolved issues.  We have discussed these issues for many years.  You, the world’s leaders, simply have not taken decisions.  We cannot waste any further time.  This is the deadline that you promised to meet in 2011 at the COP in Durban.  You said, “let’s agree in 2015”.  Now it is almost December 2015.  It is time to do what you have promised.

One of the key tools for combating climate change and promoting inclusive prosperity is sustainable energy.  That is why I established the Sustainable Energy for All initiative in 2011.  Its aim is to bring key stakeholders together to support universal energy access, and to double energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy by 2030.

These objectives are echoed in Sustainable Development Goal seven.  Today, one person out of every five still lacks access to affordable, sustainable energy.

I welcome the initiative of Prime Minister Modi and the Government of India in forming the International Solar Alliance.  The broad support for this international coalition is testament to the resonance of your vision of a solar-powered path to prosperity.

As the Prime Minister has said, we need “development without destruction”.  Solar energy offers major potential for reducing poverty and limiting greenhouse gas emissions.  The International Solar Alliance will enable solar-rich developing countries to make the best use of an abundant, free natural resource.  This will strengthen their energy security, enhance energy access to the poor, reduce spending on costly imported fuel and reduce demand for carbon-intensive power generation.

I count on developed countries to partner with the International Solar Alliance by providing technology support, capacity-building and financial resources.  All countries must be part of the solution.

Prime Minister Modi, thank you for your vision and leadership.  During my visit to India in January of this year, I saw for myself the way your country is using ingenuity and cutting-edge technology to pave the way towards a cleaner energy future.  The Canal Top Solar Plant in Gujarat was one of the most impressive solar facilities I have ever seen.  And congratulations on that.

I thank all Members and partners of this Alliance for their commitment to a safer, more sustainable and more prosperous future for all.

For information media. Not an official record.