Secretary-General Hails History-Making Ceremony as World Leaders from 175 Countries Sign Paris Agreement on Climate Change

22 April 2016
High-Level Signature Ceremony for Paris Agreement (AM & PM)

Secretary-General Hails History-Making Ceremony as World Leaders from 175 Countries Sign Paris Agreement on Climate Change

Day-long Event Sees 14 States Parties to Treaty Deposit Ratification Instruments

World leaders from 175 countries gathered at United Nations Headquarters today for the official signing of the Paris Agreement on climate change, the historic accord reached last December, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling upon all States to quickly sign up to the treaty so it could enter into force as soon as possible.

“The poor and most vulnerable must not suffer further from a problem they did not create,” said Secretary-General Ban as he opened the high-level signature ceremony in the General Assembly Hall.  Climate action could help eradicate poverty, create green jobs, defeat hunger, prevent instability and improve the lives of girls and women.  However, the window for keeping global temperature rise below 2°C, let alone 1.5°, was closing and intensified efforts were needed to decarbonize economies, he said.

Noting that today’s event had made history, he said it had involved the largest number of countries ever to sign an international agreement on a single day.  Among them were the following 14 States parties that deposited their ratification instruments:  Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Fiji, Grenada, Jamaica, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Saint Lucia, Samoa and Somalia, as well as the State of Palestine.  The treaty must find expression in actions taken on behalf of the current generation and all future generations, the Secretary-General said.  “Young people are our future.  Our covenant is with them.”

Following his remarks, Getrude Clement, a youth leader from the United Republic of Tanzania who spoke on behalf of children, said they would feel the effects of climate change most acutely.  “This is not the future we want for ourselves,” she emphasized.  “We expect action, action on a big scale, and we expect action today, not tomorrow.”

In a similar vein General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft (Denmark) pressed Member States to take bold steps to make that transformation happen now.  Among others, he congratulated the leaders of France and Peru — Presidents of the two previous climate conferences — for having shepherded a remarkable breakthrough.

President François Hollande of France said that in the run-up to the Paris Agreement, important steps had been taken by Governments, business, local leaders, civil society and ordinary citizens.  And yet, since agreement on the treaty, temperatures continued to rise and disasters had occurred, including the cyclone that had devastated Fiji, spreading drought in Africa, the shrinking of Lake Chad, and rising sea levels that threatened small islands with disappearance under the waves.

On that point, Prime Minister Enele Sosene Sopoaga of Tuvalu lamented that an average of 62,000 people were displaced due to climate change each day, a staggering figure that should ring alarm bells.  He called for an Assembly resolution establishing a legal protection system for people displaced by climate change.

President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil said that developing countries like her own had achieved significant emission reductions and taken on even more ambitious targets.  She called for increasing climate financing beyond the annual $100 billion commitment, saying that international financial flows must be permanently reoriented to support measures that would facilitate solutions.

President Joseph Kabila Kabange of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, speaking for the least developed countries, said that category had been among the most progressive during the climate negotiations, with 47 of them having communicated their intended nationally determined contributions, although such efforts were not mandatory.

Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli of China said that, as a responsible, major developing country, whose people owned their commitments, China would work earnestly to implement the Paris Agreement, notably by early accession to the treaty.  The Government of China would finalize the domestic legal accession procedures before the Group of 20 (G20) Summit in September, he said.

John Kerry, Secretary of State of the United States, said the Paris Agreement’s power lay in the opportunity it created.  The deal had sent a message to the markets that innovation, entrepreneurial activities, allocation of capital and Government decisions would define the new energy future.  Investment in renewable energy had been at an-all time high of nearly $330 billion in 2015, he noted.

Anand Mahindra of India’s Mahindra Group said that addressing climate change was the responsibility of the private sector, given its role in contributing to the problem.  The Agreement gave business a chance to redeem itself from the “trust deficit” it faced.  Many companies had joined programmes to double energy productivity by 2030, or made a commitment to transition towards 100 per cent renewable energy in the future, he said.

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Coordinator of the Indigenous Women and Peoples Association of Chad, said climate change was “adding poverty to poverty”, forcing people to leave their homes in search of a better future.  “It is time to change your hope into promise,” she said, urging leaders to sign, ratify and implement the Agreement.  “We want you to act.”

The signature event extended throughout the day, in parallel with meetings in which Heads of State and Government offered updates on how they would integrate national climate plans into broader sustainable development programmes.  Opening the event was a brass quintet from the Juilliard School in New York City, joined by 197 children representing the States parties that have adopted the Paris Agreement.

Also speaking during the signature ceremony were the Presidents of Peru and Bolivia and the Prime Ministers of Canada and Italy.  The Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation also spoke, as did a royal Princess from Morocco.  United Nations Messenger of Peace Leonardo DiCaprio also addressed the ceremony.

Opening Remarks

GETRUDE CLEMENT, youth representative from the United Republic of Tanzania, spoke on behalf of young children in the opening ceremony, saying that climate change presented a big problem all over the planet, but it was children who would feel its effects most acutely, both now and in the future.  Climate change affected the lives of young people, their planet and their education, and children saw its negative results in their daily lives.  “This is not the future we want for ourselves,” she said, adding that children were leading their communities in taking action.  Youth leaders in the United Republic of Tanzania had visited many communities to talk about the effects of climate change and had learned how it impacted the lives of young people.  “We expect action, action on a big scale, and we expect action today, not tomorrow,” she emphasized.  “The future is ours, and the future is bright.”

BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, recalled that in Paris last December, the international community had adopted the world’s first universal climate agreement, with every country pledging to curb emissions and strengthen resilience to potentially devastating climate impacts.  Today, more than 165 Governments had gathered to sign the Paris Agreement.  “This is history,” he said, describing the largest number of countries ever to sign an international agreement on a single day.  He commended the 14 States parties depositing their ratification instruments:  Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Fiji, Grenada, Jamaica, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Saint Lucia, Samoa and Somalia, as well as the State of Palestine.  Noting that records were being broken inside the chamber today, he said they were also being broken outside — record global temperatures, ice loss and carbon levels.

“We are in a race against time,” he emphasized, urging countries to join the Agreement quickly so that it could enter into force as early as possible.  The window for keeping global temperature rise below 2 °C was closing, he warned.  The era of consumption without consequences was over and intensified efforts were needed to decarbonize economies and support developing countries in making that transition.  “The poor and vulnerable must not suffer further from a problem they did not create,” he stressed.  Climate action was not a burden.  Rather, it could help eradicate poverty, create green jobs, defeat hunger, prevent instability and improve the lives of women and girls and it was essential to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  He said he had worked towards this day since “day one” as Secretary-General.  “You are signing a new covenant with the future,” which must find expression in actions taken on behalf of the present and future generations to protect communities.  “The power to build a better world is in your hands,” he declared.

FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE, President of France, said 12 December 2015 had been a historic day for the whole international community.  The moment it had become clear that agreement had been reached had been an emotional one.  It was important to recall that the terrorist attacks on Paris had been the backdrop to the Agreement, he said, adding that world leaders had nevertheless demonstrated their ability to come together with a sense of partnership and responsibility to ensure that an agreement would be the fruit of the Paris meeting, as a symbolic act for the rest of the world.

In the run-up to the Agreement, important steps had been taken by Governments, business, local leaders, civil society and ordinary citizens, he recalled.  The success of the Paris meeting had compelled Governments to go even further than the promises and pledges made, and there was a need to ensure that words became actions.  Since 12 December, temperatures had continued to rise and further disasters had occurred, including the devastating cyclone in Fiji, the spread of drought in Africa, the continuing shrinkage of Lake Chad and the rising sea levels that threatened small islands at risk of disappearing under the waves.

Never in the history of the United Nations had it been possible to bring together 170 countries to sign an agreement, all together, on one day, he noted, emphasizing that there was no turning back now.  The world must accelerate action to implement low-carbon policies.  Noting that some $100 billion was needed between now and 2020, he said every country must set an example, particularly developed countries, by stepping up contributions for combating climate change.  “It is not just a question of States taking action, the entire world must come together,” he stressed.  “Everyone must feel that they have a stake in this.”

MOGENS LYKKETOFT (Denmark), President of the General Assembly, congratulated Governments for having demonstrated what true leadership was all about; society and business leaders, for keeping the pressure and momentum going; the leaders of France and Peru – Presidents of the previous two Conference of Parties - for having shepherded a remarkable breakthrough; and the Secretary-General, for his tireless commitment on the long journey to Paris.  “We must raise the level of ambition even further,” he said, calling for bold steps to make the transformation happen now.

OLLANTA HUMALA TASSO, President of Peru, said the Paris efforts went hand in hand with others under way at the heart of the United Nations, energetically promoted by the Secretary-General, to combat poverty and inequality, notably with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Against that backdrop, he said, he was grateful for his country’s important role in that process, and to the international community for its trust in his Government.  Recalling that the Lima Call for Action had been adopted in 2014, laying the foundations for the Paris Agreement, he said Peru had worked with France to craft a historic accord that must now be implemented responsibly.

The unprecedented presence of so many Heads of State and Government to sign — and some to ratify — the Agreement was proof of the worthy efforts deployed in reaching the accord, he said.  Peru had been motivated by the need to mobilize the greatest partnership in history for the benefit of climate and development.  Indeed, the Paris Agreement contained weighty obligations that the international community must assume under the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.  States would need to ramp up dialogue and cooperation, and ensure robust commitment was in place to push forward the climate financing needed for mitigation and adaptation efforts, and to shape low-carbon, climate-resilient economies.

In that context, he went on to point out the importance of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda, saying it must play a full part in the run-up to the twenty-second Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Marrakech, Morocco, which aimed to promote climate action at all levels of society.  For its part, Peru was working to become a climate-responsible country, having committed to reducing greenhouse gases by 30 per cent by 2030, and to enhance adaptation actions.  Those included reducing vulnerability in terms of access to water, agriculture, fisheries, forests and health, as well as across five sectors — disaster risk management, resilient public infrastructure, the fight against poverty, gender equality and promoting private investment.  The Paris Agreement represented the tangible expression of a desire to achieve fair, secure and sustainable development for all.  “Today, we can ratify the greatest partnership against the enemy — climate change,” he declared.

JOSEPH KABILA KABANGE, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, noted that the Group of Least Developed Countries had been among the most progressive in the climate negotiations and had played a significant role in building important components of the Paris Agreement.  For them, today was not merely a symbolic event; it was an important opportunity to reaffirm the positive spirit and narrative created in Paris.  Today was an opportunity to outline a timetable for ensuring the Agreement would have full force in international law and would be implemented.  Ministers from the least developed countries had met in Kinshasa earlier this month to reiterate their commitment to the Paris Agreement and had declared that their Governments would take all necessary steps required for ratification of the Agreement, as soon as possible.

The Paris Agreement created many challenges and opportunities for economies, he continued.  To reach many of the goals it set out, predictable and significantly increased financial flows and other resources would have to be put in place to enable robust action.  Resilience to the adverse effects of climate change and enhanced actions on adaptation would also be required.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo was fully aware of the need for a global effort to tackle global warming and had committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent between 2020 and 2030, he said.  That represented a considerable effort for a country that was resolutely working to rebuild itself and move ahead.  The transfer of technology, building capacity, securing financing, ensuring resilience in the face of climate change, and developing renewable energy were the main priorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said, noting that it had a significant and diverse range of natural resources that made it an important partner in the fight against climate change.  The development of hydroelectric power would help meet its own energy needs, as well as those of its neighbours and beyond, he said, emphasizing that States had a duty to overcome narrow self-interest and opt for proactive, mutually beneficial cooperation.

EVO MORALES AYMA, President of Bolivia, declared:  “The Earth is not an object that can be sold,” emphasizing that his community had taught him that land was “our mother, our home that should be protected”.  He described the main enemies of life as consumerism, mercantilism, the arms race and greed — in sum, the capitalist system, which should be eradicated.  The world was witnessing the most serious disasters — temperature rise, drought, hurricanes and other extreme events — and unless Governments lived up to their Paris commitments, temperatures would rise by between 5 and 6 °C, he warned.

He went on to state that the Paris Agreement could change that reality, depending on its implementation.  It marked an important step, but it was not sufficient to save Mother Earth.  He called for examining the structural causes of the climate crisis, stressing that the rights of Mother Earth were more important than individual rights.  The environment must be protected and, as such, it was essential to adopt a universal declaration on the rights of Mother Earth, and an international climate justice tribunal.  They would judge and punish States responsible for the climate crisis, as well as businesses that caused social and environmental damage.  “If we don’t change the capitalist system in the future, we will see the destruction of humankind,” he asserted.

DILMA ROUSSEFF, President of Brazil, said that the successful conclusion of the Paris Agreement represented an historic milestone towards creating the world humanity wanted — a world of sustainable development for all, with the full achievement of the Goals enshrined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Realizing the commitments made in Paris would demand converging action by all countries and societies towards lives and economies less dependent on fossil fuels and dedicated to sustainable environmental practices.  Developing countries like Brazil had achieved significant emission reductions and taken on even more ambitious targets, she said.  The challenge of tackling climate would require a gradual increase in the ambition of developed countries and the continuous mobilization of the appropriate means of implementation.

She went on to emphasize that it was necessary to increase climate financing beyond the annual $100 billion commitment.  International financial flows must be permanently reoriented to support measures that would translate into solutions.  Brazil was determined to intensify mitigation and adaptation actions, and in that regard, would work for a 37 per cent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2025, and 43 per cent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels, she said.  The country would also achieve zero deforestation in the Amazon and neutralize emissions from the legal suppression of vegetation.  Another challenge would be the restoration and reforestation of 12 million hectares of forest and another 15 million hectares of degraded pasture, he said.  Those were indeed ambitious targets, but they were based on Brazil’s understanding of the grave, negative impacts of climate change.

ZHANG GAOLI, Vice-Premier of China, described the Paris Agreement as a milestone in the global response to climate change, which his country had actively worked to conclude.  In Paris, the President of China had put forward the country’s vision and proposals, and China had played a vital role in the negotiation process.  It was a responsible, major developing country, whose people owned their commitments, he said.  “We will work hard to earnestly implement the Paris Agreement,” notably by acceding early to the accord, and would finalize its domestic legal procedures on its accession before the Group of 20 (G-20) Summit in September.  China would work with the rest of the international community for early accession in order to ensure the accord’s early entry into force.

He said China would take actions at home to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, setting a peak by 2030 and making its best efforts to peak early.  Those efforts had been included in national development plans.  Under the national five-year plan, efforts would be made to cut carbon emissions by 18 per cent, control carbon intensity and launch near-zero carbon emission projects.  It would also put in place a strict accountability system for environmental protection and ensure implementation of all targets.  More broadly, China would enhance international cooperation against climate change by taking part in follow-up negotiations on the Paris Agreement, while deepening South-South cooperation on climate change.  New projects had been launched in 2016, especially those focused on enhancing the climate financing capacity of developing countries.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, Prime Minister of Canada, said climate change represented not only a challenge that must be met, but also an opportunity that must be grasped.  It was a challenge that Canada had already begun to address, he said, noting that his Government had met with a range of stakeholders to create a plan that would meet or exceed emissions targets, and taken steps towards clean economic growth.  Canada had encouraged actions to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and invested billions in a green energy fund.  It had also signed on to “Mission Innovation”, a global partnership that aimed to double Government investment in climate-change initiatives over five years, while encouraging a more prominent role for the private sector.

“These actions are just the beginning,” he said, emphasizing that the country was not making such investments to be “nice”.  Rather, Canada was doing so because it was the right thing to do for the environment and the economy.  The humanitarian case was also clear.  It was well known that climate change would hit the poorest citizens the hardest, making it more difficult for the international community to address other challenges, such as food insecurity and the growing needs of refugee populations.  The business case was also obvious, and there were tremendous opportunities in that regard.  Canada’s ambitions would not end with those planned steps aimed at addressing the issue at home.  The country would also play a prominent role in supporting developing countries, which should neither be punished for a problem they had not created, nor deprived of the opportunities for clean growth that developed countries were pursuing.  That was why Canada would investment $2.5 billion over the next five years to help developing countries move towards sustainable development, he said.

MATTEO RENZI, Prime Minister of Italy, asked delegates to close their eyes and imagine their sons and grandsons in the General Assembly chamber for the first time.  “Today, finally, we give a message of hope,” he said.  The Paris Agreement was important, but not only for a single issue.  Its most important aspect was its political message.  “We give the message that politics is able to give hope for the next generations,” he said, emphasizing that Italy would work for implementation of the Paris Agreement in the coming months.  The international community had demonstrated that it understood the importance of delivering a collective message, and Italy would consider that a priority for its presidency of the Group of Seven (G-7) and for its role in Europe.

ENELE SOSENE SOPOAGA, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, said “we need to take the Paris Agreement and mould it into an international call to action” — a “document of revival”.  Signature was the first step, to be followed by ratification to ensure its early entry into force.  He said that he had arrived today with Tuvalu’s instrument of ratification, and encouraged the legislatures of other countries also to ratify.  He welcomed the decision by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to develop a special report on the impacts of a 1.5 °C global temperature rise, saying he suspected that would have serious implications for small-island countries, such as his own.

More broadly, he said an average 62,000 people were displaced each day due to climate change, a staggering figure that should ring alarm bells.  Calling for an Assembly resolution to establish a legal protection system for people displaced by the impacts of climate change, he said that, since small island developing States required better access to climate financing, disbursement of the Green Climate Facility must be based on accessibility and level of vulnerability, rather than how well a State party could write its adaptation or mitigation proposals.  He also sought support for a Pacific island climate change insurance facility.

ALEXANDER KHLOPONIN, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, said today’s signing was a remarkable and important step by the international community towards achieving the goal of tackling global climate change.  The Paris Agreement created a reliable international legal framework that united actions of developed and developing countries, including the main emitters of greenhouse gases.  The quality of life of all of humanity and the move towards a more sustainable future depended on resolving climate issues.

The Agreement, he said, contained important provisions on the role of market-based mechanisms to provide incentives to Governments and businesses to take effective measures to address climate challenges.  His country was prepared to cooperate with all States and had laid out an ambitious set of intended nationally determined contributions, which included its intention to limit greenhouse gas emissions to 70 per cent of 1990s levels by 2030.  The preservation of forests was of major concern for the Russian Federation.  The potential of forests must be maximized, without artificial restrictions.  The Russian Federation had created a national plan to implement the Agreement, which included a long-term strategy of low-carbon development through 2050, and systemic efforts for the sustainable management of forests.  There needed to be innovative approaches based on technologies, with a particular focus placed on technical cooperation to address climate problems.  He concluded by highlighting a proposal by his Government to convene a scientific forum under the United Nations to discuss climate change challenges, including the depletion of natural resources.

JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State of the United States, recalled that he was a young organizer just back from Viet Nam on the first Earth Day in 1970, and a young Senator advocating in Rio de Janeiro for the first Earth Summit.  After having attended many Conferences of Parties, it was fair to say that all felt an “extraordinary sweep of joy” when 196 nations said in Paris that they would live up to their responsibility to future generations.  That meeting was a turning point in the fight against climate change, when the world had decided to heed the mountain of evidence, put to rest the debate of whether climate change was real, and instead, began to galvanize the focus on how to address the irrefutable reality that nature was changing rapidly due to our own choices.

The power of the Agreement was not that it guaranteed States would hold the global temperature rise to a target of 1.5 or 2 °C.  “It does not and we know it”, he said.  Its power was in the opportunity it created, the message it sent to the marketplace that innovation, entrepreneurial activities, allocation of capital and Government decisions would define the new energy future.  Its power lay in what it would do to unleash the private sector.  In 2015, renewable energy investment reached an-all time high of nearly $330 billion.  It was predicted that States would invest tens of trillions of dollars by the end of the century.  More of the world’s money was now being spent on fostering renewable technologies than on fossil fuel plants.

“None of what we have to achieve is beyond our capacity technologically,” he said.  “The only question is whether it was beyond our collective resolve.”  The urgency of the challenge was only becoming more pronounced.  The United States looked forward to formally joining the Agreement this year and called on all its international partners to do likewise.  Quoting former South African President Nelson Mandela, he said, “It always seems impossible until it is done.”

LALLA HASNA, Princess of Morocco, whose country would host the twenty-second Conference of the Parties in Marrakech, said collective efforts should focus on the Agreement’s effective implementation.  To honour its commitments, she said that Morocco would, by 2030, cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 32 per cent while meeting 52 per cent of its energy needs through renewable sources such as solar and wind farms.  It stood ready to share its know-how with others, particularly countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Noting how the next Conference would see the adoption of procedures and mechanisms for implementing the Paris Agreement, she emphasized the importance of a clear and predictable road map to raise funds for projects, thus fostering change in private investment patterns.  Countries needed to benefit from a full range of incentives, with developing States getting access to patented technology on preferential terms and solutions being found to environmental trade barriers.  Negotiations on implementing the Agreement had reflected a spirit of international solidarity and responsibility, she said, and with the commitment of all parties, the pledges made in Paris would result in specific objectives, effective mechanisms and concrete projects that would turn ambitions into reality.

ANAND MAHINDRA, private sector representative, said the transition to a greener way of life was happening after much “churning”.  Nevertheless, indisputably positive things were beginning to take place, starting with today’s signing of the Paris Agreement.  It was the first step towards visibly integrating the private sector’s future with the future of the planet.  Addressing climate change was the responsibility of the business sector given its role in contributing to the problem.  It gave businesses a chance to redeem themselves from the “trust deficit” it had faced following the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Many corporations were joining programmes to double energy productivity by 2030 or had committed to transitioning towards 100 per cent renewable energy in the future.  Investment in renewable energy options now outstripped that in conventional energy for the first time and represented an attractive business opportunity.  It would be on the best investment he, as a business leader, could make.  He welcomed the Agreement’s signing today as a sign that the inner conscious of nations and corporations had been stirred.

HINDOU OUMAROU IBRAHIM, civil society representative from Chad, said her people were nomadic pastoralists, where more than 10 million depended on a fragile ecosystem.  Thirty years ago, her mother used to walk 10 kilometres a day to collect water and food.  Today, young mothers were climate refugees.  They could not walk to Lake Chad because it was vanishing.  The land was being used by Boko Haram and her people’s rights and dignity were under threat.  “Climate change is adding poverty to poverty every day,” she said, forcing people to leave their homes in search of a better future.  Migration was a tragedy for those who had been left behind — women and children who must stay and fight the consequences of climate change on their own.  They fought for survival.

“Nature is our supermarket.  To protect it, we use our indigenous and science knowledge,” she said, noting that her people had developed a participatory treaty to help women and children manage the few resources left.  But their traditional knowledge could not solve everything.  It could not end fossil fuel or protect people from land grabbing.  Today, delegates had the responsibility to ensure international citizenship.  In her community, thousands of women and children had never used electricity.  They had seen the damage caused by fossil fuels and carbon.  For her people, true climate justice was renewable energy for all.  “Without adaptation measures, soon there will be no one to adapt.  In Paris, you gave us hope.  Now it is time to change your hope into promise,” she said, urging leaders to sign, ratify and implement the Agreement.  “We want you to act.”

LEONARDO DICAPRIO, United Nations Messenger of Peace, recalled how he had travelled the world over the past two years to document how climate change had altered the natural balance of life.  “All that I have seen and heard on my journey absolutely terrified me,” he said.  It was proven that climate change was a direct result of human action and would get astronomically worse in the future.  “You know what will happen if this scourge is left unchecked,” he warned, calling climate change a “runaway freight train” that threatened impending disaster for the world.

Although the Paris Agreement had been reached, he said, evidence proved that it would not be enough.  The planet would not be saved unless fossil fuels were left in the ground, where they belonged.  Reversing the course of climate change would not be easy, but the tools were in the international community’s hands, provided they were applied before it was too late.  Many of the steps that had been taken were already yielding fruit, but it was now incumbent upon world leaders to lead, empower and inspire.  Signing the Paris Agreement would mean nothing without bold, unprecedented action.  After 21 years of debate, it was time to declare — no more talk, no more excuses, no more 10-year studies, no more allowing fossil fuels companies to dictate the policies that will affect the future.  The United Nations was the body that could make a difference.  “The world is now watching.  You will either be lauded by future generations, or vilified by them,” he warned.  “You are the last, best hope for earth,” he concluded.

National Statements (A to L)

MOGENS LYKKETOFT (Denmark), President of the General Assembly, opened the segment, calling it an opportunity for Parties to the Convention to provide updates on how their Governments were implementing their national climate plans and integrating them into their overall sustainable development plans.  Speakers would also set out their countries’ road maps towards achieving the overall aim of limiting the global temperature rise to well below 2°C, and indicate their respective Governments’ timetables for ratifying the Paris Agreement.  In addition, he said, participants would indicate how their Governments would accelerate climate action before 2020 by drawing on the ingenuity, resources and efforts of all sectors of society.

JUAN MANUEL SANTOS CALDERÓN, President of Colombia, called climate change the greatest challenge faced by mankind.  The sooner the Paris Agreement was ratified, the faster the benefits would be seen, he said, adding that his country had recently concluded an agreement on climate change that called for effective and coordinated action, with a national policy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well as deforestation in the Amazon region.

He said his country was particularly vulnerable, having experienced in recent years some of the worst flooding and drought in its history.  Acting on climate change would benefit the environment, turn those who had been engaged in conflict into promoters of change, and help restore forests that had been impacted by conflict and drug trafficking.

ALI BONGO ONDIMBA, President of Gabon, called upon States to adopt economic development models that were low in carbon emissions.  Doing that would require new ways of cooperating internationally to combat climate change, he said, stating that Gabon stood ready to work with the international community to reduce global warming.  With 88 per cent of his country covered by forests, he said Gabon had opted for the mainstreaming of land management.

Politically, his State had sought to bring national legislation in line with the challenges of climate change, he said, reiterating a commitment to transition to renewable energy.  Implementation of the Paris Agreement should create a climate that was conducive to private sector investment, particularly in countries committed to a green environment.

ROSEN PLEVNELIEV, President of Bulgaria, calling the Paris Agreement a decisive step forward, said that there was “no turning back”.  Transformation would be made in all key sectors.

Having achieved its targets under the Kyoto Protocol, he said that his country had an ambitious national framework to meet the new targets it had set in compliance with the Agreement’s standards and regional goals, putting an emphasis on energy efficiency within energy networks.  It was now up to everyone to secure early ratification and implementation action.

KOLINDA GRABAR-KITAROVIĆ, President of Croatia, said that the next 10 years were critical for the future existence of the world.  Efforts to face it must not take a back seat.  Having fairly low levels of emissions, but being very vulnerable to climate changes, her country was already seeing irreversible changes in the ecosystem.

Early ratification and implementation was now a priority for the country under the standards of the Paris Agreement and action of the European Union, she said.  Strong partnerships must be built to support collective efforts; her country was participating in cooperation with countries in all regions, as climate change affected all no matter where they were located.

ALASSANE OUATTARA, President of Côte d’Ivoire, said that today was a demonstration of solidarity to deal with the effects of climate change.  His country had experienced warming and a decrease in rainfall, resulting in smaller agricultural yields and other effects.  For his country, implementing the Paris Agreement was an imperative.  A framework for that purpose was now being constructed in coordination with the country’s development plans.  The support of the international community was needed in those efforts, particularly for the dissemination of clean electricity.  Scientific and technological progress, for that purpose, must be made available to all.

JÁNOS ÁDER, President of Hungary, said that despite progress on climate agreements and investments in green technology, it appeared that climate change was accelerating.  The Earth continued to give daily warnings of the consequences of our current practices.  It was not yet time to celebrate; much progress must be made urgently.  For that reason, the largest emitters must take accelerated action.  Research into storing energy must also be a priority.  Noting that “time is our most precious non-renewable resource,” he urged all stakeholders to use it carefully.

DALIA GRYBAUSKAITĖ, President of Lithuania, praised the Paris Agreement as “a win” for the planet, the people and the economy, urging all stakeholders to take action to implement it.  Lithuania, she said, was fully committed to the European Union’s pledge to reduce emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030 and was a clear example that rapid economic growth was possible without harming the environment.  In the last 25 years, national emission levels fell by almost 60 per cent, while gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 30 per cent.  She concluded with a warning that although nuclear energy could be a component of a clean energy strategy, the safety of all related infrastructure must be in line with international law and ensure cooperation with neighbouring countries.

FAUSTIN ARCHANGE TOUADERA, Head of State of the Central African Republic, said decisions needed to be taken on measures that would limit the effects of climate change.  He recalled the commitment that his country’s delegation had made at the twenty-first Conference of the Parties to work towards reducing carbon emissions, and noted the need for financing to protect the Congo Basin forest.  It was his country’s desire to see mechanisms established quickly so as to maintain the global ecosystem.

DAVID ARTHUR GRANGER, President of Guyana, said his country was a net carbon sink, with forests that sequestered more carbon than what its population generated.  With the world’s second highest percentage of rainforest cover, Guyana commanded important carbon stocks.  Nevertheless, he said his country was committed to limiting the rise in global temperatures with ambitious initiatives in the forest and renewable energy sectors, moving closer towards a 100 per cent renewable power supply by 2025.  It would invest in such measures as timber monitoring and alternative forms of power generation.

JOCELERME PRIVERT, President of Haiti, said that after Paris, there is now a race against the clock for implementation.  It was a matter of survival of the planet.  In Haiti, hurricanes had become more devastating and droughts more extreme.  In that light, his Government was committed to measures to reduce emissions by 31 per cent by 2030.  Energy reform, reforestation and strengthening human settlements would be among the priorities in that effort.  The climate regime must be implemented along with action to reduce poverty and inequality.  He appealed for that reason for stepped-up assistance to developing countries.

ANA HELENA CHACÓN ECHEVERRÍA, Vice-President of Costa Rica, said that her peaceful, unarmed country had placed its faith in multilateralism and in international agreements such as the Paris Agreement.  She urged its early ratification.  Costa Rica had long provided a model in renewable energy, forest preservation and other measures to reduce its carbon imprint, and was continuing plans to move towards a carbon neutral economy.  All measures were taken in line with the country’s human rights and development plan.  She pledged that her State would build on its achievements and urged all stakeholders to work along with it.

JOSAIA VOREQE BAINIMARAMA, Prime Minister and Minister for iTaukei Affairs and the Sugar Industry of Fiji, said the citizens of his country and other small and vulnerable developing States desperately needed help.  The Paris Agreement was a positive first step, but it was not enough, and for that reason the Pacific Islands Development Forum was seeking a new limit on global temperature rise to 1.5°C.  He went on to call for changes to current arrangements for funding climate change adaptation, as they impeded the ability of small and vulnerable nations to gain access to appropriate financial arrangements.

GASTON ALPHONSO BROWNE, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Corporate Governance of Antigua and Barbuda, said that Caribbean countries had accumulated high debt due to increased spending to address climate change.  Adequate and predictable financing was needed to enable the region to meet climate challenges.  He also supported a proposal to swap debt for climate change adaptation.  With the financial services sector of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member States under existential threat, he appealed for a halt to the destructive practice of delinking Caribbean countries from the international payment system.

ALPHA CONDÉ, President of Guinea, said that his country was ready to go into action to implement the Paris Agreement, particularly in respect to renewable energy.  In that area, the Agreement included a framework for assistance to his continent.  African States were waiting for a clear response in their appeals for such provisions of the Agreement to be operationalized in a timely manner.  Early implementation was critical for Africa and the world.

JIMMY MORALES, President of Guatemala, said that the Paris Agreement provided hope for developing countries that had been severely affected by climate change.  His country had been battered by severe weather in many forms, causing loss of much life and harming the national economy.  Signing the Agreement was just the first step.  All States must commit to implementation.  His country was committed to managing resources in a sustainable way and to promoting a green economy for development.  More must be done to assist Guatemala and other vulnerable States to adapt to climate effects and reduce poverty while mitigating emissions.

DEAN BARROW, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance of Belize, speaking on behalf of CARICOM, said that small island development States had long been weathering — “no pun intended” — severe climate events spawned by an industrial revolution not of their making.  The world knew in 2009 that survival was at stake, yet it took a veritable labour of Sisyphus to finalize an agreement.  To avoid Armageddon, it was essential to maintain unrelenting pressure, with everyone playing a part and major emitters carrying their commensurate share.  CARICOM was calling for an equitable climate financing architecture and saw promise in the Green Climate Fund as an effective model for implementation.  He also said that, by depriving their domestic financial institutions of correspondent relationships, the phenomenon of de-risking was threating to lock Caribbean economies out of international trade and finance.

FREUNDEL STUART, Prime Minister of Barbados, said his Government’s signing and ratification of the Paris Agreement sanctioned the consideration and acceptance of its first intended nationally determined contribution, which was submitted in 2015 to the Climate Change Convention.  In light of recent reports that 2015 was the hottest year on record and of the study that concluded that climate forecasts underestimated the sea-rise impact of Antarctic thaw, there was no time for complacency.  The contribution of fragile island nations like Barbados would be constrained by the development of operational methods to support the Agreement’s implementation, the outcomes of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report on the impact of the 1.5°C temperature rise above pre-industrial levels, and by the facilitative dialogue among parties, all of which would not occur until 2018.

PERRY GLADSTONE CHRISTIE, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance of Bahamas, said that his Government welcomed the commitments in the Agreement, including the aim to limit the annual average temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.  That ceiling was the only way to ensure the survival of low-lying islands such as the Bahamas.  His country was still recovering from Hurricane Joaquin.  Climate change was threatening its very existence.  Policies and programmes towards climate change adaptation and mitigation were in the early stages of implementation due to limited capacity and other constraints.  They would operate in the wider context of the national development plan, which aimed to decrease emissions by at least 30 per cent by 2030.  To implement it, the Government would continue making the necessary investments.  He called on developed countries to fulfil their financial aid pledges on concessionary terms.

KEITH C. MITCHELL, Prime Minister of Grenada, said the unique characteristics, particular vulnerabilities and special circumstances of small island developing States must continue to be a pillar in climate change deliberations.  Grenada had begun the process of integrating climate change into its national development plans and was assessing major national investments for their sensitivities to climate risks.  Grenada intended to increase emissions reduction targets over time and pursue action to fulfil commitments as an integral part of national development.  Grenada was fully committed to achieving common climate change objectives.  He presented Grenada’s instrument of ratification of the Paris Agreement with the hope that it would take effect in the not too distant future.

ANTONI MARTÍ PETIT, Head of Government of Andorra, said that his country had already put in place plans to reduce carbon emissions by 37 per cent by 2020 in comparison with earlier periods.  It was now focused on reductions in the energy and transportation sectors, which combined caused 90 per cent of emissions.  There was a plan of investment for renewable energy in place that amounted to 10 per cent of the gross national product (GNP).  Educational systems and the private sector would be engaged in the effort.

PAUL KABA THIEBA, Prime Minister of Burkina Faso, welcoming the signing of the Paris Agreement, said that ratification and implementation was now critical.  His country had a mitigation and adaptation framework integrated with its development plans, and would ratify the document as quickly as possible.  Costly projects related to adaptation and land restoration were already under way.  The implementation of the Agreement would only bear fruit if the international dynamism behind it were maintained.  He appealed to all stakeholders, particularly developed countries, to meet their commitments in implementation assistance.

TAMMAM SALAM, President of the Council of Ministers of Lebanon, said part of a national commitment to do its part to meet the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement included action plans and mobilizing key actors.  The greatest constraints on Lebanon achieving the climate targets were the region’s instability and hosting more than 1.2 million displaced persons.  International solidarity in addressing those challenges was therefore indispensable, he said.  “Let’s prove the world right and show what the combined will of our countries can achieve, even in the most difficult of times,” he said.

PAKALITHA MOSISILI, Member of Parliament from Lesotho, said significant steps to build a green, low carbon and climate resilient economy had been taken in his country, including the promotion of renewable energy resources, which was a top priority.  Lesotho welcomed pledges made to provide resources to address climate change and called upon developed countries to provide substantial financial and technical resources to address adaptation needs and capacity-building, including technology development and transfer to least developed countries.

NIKO PELESHI, Deputy Prime Minister of Albania, said his country was committed to strong action on climate change.  A large portion of its power was already based on renewables — hydropower — but that was threatened by climate change itself.  Therefore, much additional work was needed.  He pledged his country’s continued efforts to meet European goals, integrated within all national institutions.

ALEXANDER DE CROO, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation, Digital Agenda, Telecom and Postal Services of Belgium, said that the Paris Agreement was among the most important documents of the times.  He outlined plans to make his country’s plans to lower its carbon footprint and assist developing countries, particularly the least developed.  The Agreement was not only about hard figures; it was also about lives at stake.  All stakeholders, including international institutions and the private sector, must do their part.

MIGUEL ARIAS CAÑETE, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy for the European Union, said it was the international community’s solemn duty to show it could do more with regard to climate change.  The support shown in Paris needed to be strengthened and shared.  It would take everyone working together to reach global climate goals.  In Paris, a deal had been struck that must be honoured, ensuring that no one was left behind and that the greatest burden fell on the broadest shoulders.  The Union had worked to establish cleaner energy markets and share experiences and knowledge with countries as they sought to develop their own climate action plans.  The Union would continue to work with partners abroad, as the biggest provider of climate finance worldwide.

ELBA ROSA PÉREZ MONTOYA, Minister for Science, Technology and the Environment of Cuba, noted that studies had indicated that the oceans had rose some 20 centimetres between 2001 and 2010 and that in the coming decade, they would continue to rise as high as a meter.  The world was facing crises of every kind; water, migrations, natural disasters and food insecurity.  If the situation was not reversed, what would happen to coastal cities, small islands and the 800 million people who suffered from chronic hunger, she questioned.  Increasing financing and the transfer of technology from developed to developing countries would be critical for the attainment of global climate objectives.

SUSANA MABEL MALCORRA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Argentina, said the Paris Agreement and other pledges made last year were “milestones”.  Argentina had embarked upon a new path of global openness and wanted to deepen international cooperation to improve the capacity of countries to adapt to the effects of climate change and reduce emissions.  Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si, had helped the country strengthen its dedication to caring for the world’s common home through a spirit of unity.  In specific terms, Argentina had proposed to revise its goals, targeting a 15 per cent emission reduction.  She called on all stakeholders to follow through on their commitments for the benefit of future generations.

VLADIMIR MAKEI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus, said that his country had managed to reduce its carbon imprint while growing its economy and was ready to do more.  All States must be engaged through adequate assistance and open and fair access to energy technology.  For that purpose, the United Nations was central.  He pledged that his country would continue to be a contributor to climate security.

ARTURO CORRALES, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Honduras, said that the Paris Agreement was a turning point in history, with nations standing together to protect their common home.  “Great results required great ambitions,” he said, quoting Heraclitus.  Given the high stakes, urgent action was needed.  His country was extremely vulnerable to climate change, particularly in the context of El Niño.  Nonetheless, Honduras had plans to achieve all the goals it laid down.  Assistance was needed from developed countries, however, to do that.  Forests were being restored and reduction in wood production, as well as emissions, was being pursued.  He expected early ratification of the Agreement as well.

NICOS KOUYIALIS, Minister for Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment of Cyprus, said the adoption of the Paris Agreement and the parties’ announcement of intended nationally determined contributions would definitely and irreversibly accelerate the transition to a climate-resilient, climate-neutral global economy.  Cyprus, located in an area already experiencing climate change effects, had been witnessing prolonged periods of drought, increased temperatures and the degradation of forests and rare ecosystems.  Climate change had been included as one of the goals of the new national development plan, which would drive a number of mitigation and adaptation policies and measures in the coming years.  Cyprus had also joined with the European Union in submitting an intended nationally determined contribution of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030 from 1990 levels.

JABER AL-MUBARAK AL-HAMAD AL SABAH, Prime Minister of Kuwait, said that through the Paris Agreement, effective measures had been outlined for addressing climate change, as well as the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  The responsibility for addressing such issues was a matter of shared but differentiated responsibility, in line with the principles of equality and the rights of developing countries as they sought to eradicate poverty.  Kuwait called upon all Member States, including those most responsible for carbon emissions, to join the Agreement and shoulder their responsibility for financing, technology transfer and capacity-building to help countries tackle climate change.

AURÉLIEN AGBENONCI, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Benin, associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, the African Group and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that the international community must take definitive action to reduce carbon emissions.  His country had adopted a national programme for the management of climate change and submitted its intended nationally determined contribution.  Benin called upon developed countries to shoulder their historic responsibilities with regard to climate financing and support least developed countries and small island developing States in their efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change.  He stressed the need for all stakeholders, including Government, civil society, the private sector and science communities to take the appropriate steps to play an active role in global climate action.

AVI GABBAI, Minister for the Environment of Israel, expressed regret that the Palestinian President had exploited the meeting to spread hatred against his country.  Climate change was “the most pressing issue of our time”, he said, and all States shared a responsibility to address it.  Noting that climate change knew no boundaries, he said that today the international community began to live up to the commitments it had made in Paris.  All stakeholders, from the public sector to the business sector to financial institutions, should play a role.  Spotlighting the power of science and technology to combat climate change, he said that his country had been ranked first by the Global Cleantech Innovation Index in 2014.  Indeed, Israel was a world leader in water efficiency and water recycling, among other areas, and was eager to share its knowledge with others around the world.

SIGRÚN MAGNÚSDÓTTIR, Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources of Iceland, said a national commitment to implementing the Paris Agreement had already been seen in the almost exclusive use of renewable energy to provide electricity and heating nationwide.  Now Iceland was working to reduce emissions from cars, fisheries, industries and agriculture.  It also planned to increase efforts in afforestation and land restoration.  To support capacity-building for clean technologies in developing countries, Iceland participated in the Global Geothermal Alliance, which was launched in Paris.  She stressed, however, that the climate challenge would not be met unless everyone worked on solutions.  Women, in particular, must be empowered for decision-making and action at all stages.

MARK POMERANTS, Minister for the Environment of Estonia, said his country had reduced its emissions by almost 50 per cent as compared to 1990, successfully decoupled greenhouse emission volume from economic growth and fulfilled the emission reduction target under the Kyoto Protocol.  In the post-2020 period, the country would continue its efforts to reduce emissions, he said, adding that Estonia had committed to implement the European Union energy and climate framework that sought to reduce emissions by 40 per cent by 2030.  The country’s Low Carbon Development Strategy until 2050 contained long-term policy guidelines in the energy, transportation, industrial, agricultural, forestry and waste management sectors, and it was developing its first national climate change adaptation strategy and action plan.  In recent years, the country had achieved an efficiency gain of 2 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) annually by signing documents digitally and sharing them electronically.

CAROLE DIESCHBOURG, Minister for the Environment of Luxembourg, said her country would pursue earliest ratification of the Paris Agreement and would meet European Union standards of emissions reductions.  Progress would be accelerated through an integrated approach and close collaboration between Governments and non-State actors.  She called for increased attention to emissions from the transport sector, particularly air and sea mobility.  Her country was focusing much of its efforts on the sector.  She pledged that Luxembourg would work towards the full achievement of the ambitious Agreement.

KASPARS GERHARDS, Minister for Environment and Regional Development of Latvia, said that he was confident that his country would reach the 2020 and 2030 targets set out by the European Union.  National legislation for that purpose was already under development, and work was under way for a long-term, low-carbon development strategy along with a strategy for adaptation to climate change.  Affirming that the Lima-Paris Action Agenda had shown many examples of multisector action, he encouraged all stakeholders to keep the momentum of Paris alive.

RICHARD BRABEC, Minister for the Environment of the Czech Republic, calling the Paris Agreement “an historic achievement”, stressed that its effectiveness depended on forthcoming negotiations on frameworks to help parties implement and operationalize their actions at the national level.  His State was committed to fulfil its obligations under the Agreement jointly with the European Union and its Member States by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, following previous reductions already achieved.  As universal action was required, however, the poorest and most vulnerable countries must receive support for adaptation and mitigation.  In addition, cooperation with the private sector, cities, regions and organizations was crucial.

BARBARA HENDRICKS, Minister for the Government of Germany, said the Paris Agreement was more than “ink on paper”; it was part of a unique multilateral process that marked a historic turning point.  The Agreement created a framework for countries that needed to adapt to the impacts of climate change.  The international community must move away from the fossil fuel age and work towards creating a world where the poorest people were not forced to pay the price for current lifestyles and economic practices.  Paris was more than a climate agreement — it was an opportunity for global transformation.  The real work would start now as States undertook the difficult task of implementing and updating the intended nationally determined contributions to make the most of the momentum created in Paris.

GIGLA AGULASHVILI, Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia, said that by formulating an ambitious intended nationally determined contribution ahead of the 2015 Paris conference, his Government had shown its commitment to fight climate change.  Georgia had a low-carbon climate resilient economy and emitted just 0.03 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.  In 2014, it emitted 16 million tons of carbon dioxide, just 34 per cent of the 1990 level.  The country was also working to mitigate climate change, preparing a low-emission development strategy with the United States Government supporting a national energy efficiency action plan.  Eleven Georgian cities had joined the European Union’s Covenant of Mayors initiative to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Actions taken by small countries like Georgia were essential in the global fight against climate change, he said.

PRAKASH JAVADEKAR, Minister for the Environment, Forests and Climate Change of India, said that it was crucial to address wasteful consumption in order to mitigate climate change.  “If the current level of consumption continues, we’ll need three planets,” he stressed.  It was also critical that justice prevail in all climate change efforts by addressing disparities in impact, causation and responsibility.  India had committed itself to reducing emissions by 35 per cent by 2030, and was currently moving to cleaner energy, with extra fees imposed on dirty fuels and incentives to more efficient electrical use.  Efficient technologies were being supplied free to farmers.  For all stakeholders, ratification of the Paris Agreement as well as the second-period treaty was imperative.  He urged all to maintain momentum for sustainable development at the same time as they were seized with climate change.

LARS CHRISTIAN LILLEHOLT, Minster for Energy, Utilities and Climate of Denmark, said the Paris Agreement was a shift from action by few to action by all.  The European Union had put forward a strong contribution to the Agreement, and Denmark was committed to turn its target into reality as soon as possible.  However, the contributions put forward by all parties would not be enough to keep global warming below 2°C, and the Agreement should therefore be the starting point for the transition to a green economy.  His country supported climate action around the world by mobilizing finance and providing capacity-building for both mitigation and adaptation.  Underscoring the need to show that the transition to a green economy could be cost-effective, he said that research and innovation on clean energy were needed to bring down costs — for example through programmes such as Mission Innovation.

KAMINA JOHNSON SMITH, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica, said the Paris Agreement’s greatest value would be delivering a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and mobilizing the resources needed for climate change adaptation.  Jamaica had a comprehensive national climate change policy and action plan, key elements of which had been set out in its intended nationally determined contribution.  Jamaica welcomed the commitment to provide climate financing of at least $100 billion each year, which would help developing countries and small island developing States in particular.  All efforts should be made to ensure that barriers to accessing the Green Climate Fund and other multilateral sources of financing were removed, she concluded.

PEHIN DATO MOHAMMAD YASMIN UMAR, Minister for Industry of Brunei Darussalam, said that despite its low carbon output, his country was committed to further reducing emissions as part of its efforts to provide the best possible life for its people.  As a fuel producer, it was also concerned with the most efficient use of its products.  Brunei Darussalam was committed to reductions of emissions by 63 per cent by 2035 compared to 1990.  To do that, it was developing renewable energy capacity and increasing protected forest area to absorb carbon emissions.  His country was small, but considered itself an important partner in climate-change efforts.  It was important that energy producers, as well as developed countries, work with all stakeholders and share technologies and assistance globally.

KHALED FAHMY, Minister for the Environment of Egypt, praised the Paris Agreement because it strengthened implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, respected the principles of equity, common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, and recognized the parity between mitigation and adaption, among many other assets.  It also committed developed countries to providing necessary funding and technology transfer to developing countries, supported the reduction of water stress and mandated transparency in implementation.  He expressed confidence that developed countries would honour their pre-2020 commitments and take the necessary efforts to close emissions reductions gaps, enabling all stakeholders to work together in a collaborative and effective manner.

RI SU YONG, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said a dangerous “touch-and-go” situation prevailed on the Korean Peninsula.  The reason stemmed from reckless nuclear war exercises and vicious sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, pursued by the United States and its followers.  For its part, the Government was taking steps in line with the Paris Agreement, including by planting and reforesting 1.67 million hectares of mountain areas by 2024 and creating a plan to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.  Priority issues included the primacy of sociopolitical stability, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by those most responsible for producing them and the provision of critical support to developing countries by developed nations.

CATHERINE MCKENNA, Minister for the Environment and Climate Change of Canada, hailed the Paris Agreement, but warned that nations must move quickly as time for implementation was short.  Her country would do everything it could to support the call to action, with billions in funding for developing countries to assist adaptation and mitigation.  In her country’s northern regions, indigenous communities were feeling the harsh effects of climate change.  Climate was a high priority for domestic policy as well.  Clean growth was being promoted, in order to mitigate change as well as improve the quality of life.  She described a joint approach with the United States and cooperation with G20 partners in many areas.  Canada aimed to quickly ratify the Paris Agreement, and other States were encouraged to do the same.

LEJEUNE MBELLA MBELLA, Minister for External Relations of Cameroon, reiterated his country’s firm resolve to work with other countries to implement the agreements reached in Paris.  Affirming the severity of the threat of climate change, he said that an adequate international response was needed.  His country’s national plan, created with Cameroon’s public and private partners, aimed to reduce vulnerability to climate impacts.  Implementation required resources and strong technical assistance.  His Government intended to swiftly ratify the Paris Agreement, given its importance for all of Africa.

TAHER SHAKHSHIR, Minister for the Environment of Jordan, said the Paris Agreement represented a quantum leap in developing an international system to manage climate change.  To turn promises into action, his country had implemented an ambitious political framework and integrated climate change goals with sectoral strategies.  For example, climate change had been embedded in Jordan’s new water strategy, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources was putting tremendous effort into renewable energy and the Ministry of Agriculture was adjusting its pasture management and food security programmes.  The principles of the Agreement were meanwhile being linked to the country’s national Green Growth Plan, he said, adding, however, that regional instability made long-term planning difficult.

AHMED ALI SILAY, Minister Delegate in Charge of International Cooperation of Djibouti, said that the international community had gathered for a historic event that would impact the future of the planet for generations to come.  The signing of the Paris Agreement was a milestone for people and planet.  He expressed grave concern that the risks posed by climate change meant that in less than half a century, parts of East Africa and the Middle East could be uninhabitable due to rising temperatures.  His country had taken concrete steps to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and was a leader on the African continent in that regard.

GREG HUNT, Minister for the Environment of Australia, said his country was on track to meet its target of reducing emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels and domestic climate change policies were delivering real outcomes.  As a “Mission Innovation” partner, Australia was driving new solar and clean energy technology and would double investment under the partnership by 2020.  “I say to the world that Australia is open for renewable energy business and investment,” he said.  The country’s new $1 billion Clean Energy Innovation Fund would support emerging and innovative technologies.  Further, Australia was taking action to protect and build resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.

HUGO ROGER MARTINEZ BONILLA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, hailed the signing of the Paris Agreement, noting that his region was particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.  It was crucial for his country, therefore, that all commitments under the Agreement were met, both nationally and internationally.  At the national level, the country was working towards sustainability at all levels.  He appealed to all States to build on the Paris momentum to forge a better life for all people.

SITI NURBAYA BAKAR, Minister for the Environment and Forestry of Indonesia, said her country was committed to meeting its commitments in climate change action while also meeting its responsibilities to provide a better life for its people.  For that purpose, efficiency would be a priority in the effort to bring electricity to more people.  Emissions from transport were also being addressed.  Measures were being taken to stem destruction of the large forest coverage of Indonesia, and greater control was being taken of all extractive industries.  Her country aimed to be one of the first to ratify the Paris Agreement.  She encouraged developed States to partner with developing countries in technology sharing and finance.

MAHAMA AYARIGA, Minister for the Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation of Ghana, said his country would ratify the Paris Agreement next May and that a plan had been developed to ensure national ownership at the local level, across all sectors.  Efforts were already under way to mainstream the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, which were recognized as interlinked, into the 40-year Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda.  Action in the energy and agricultural sectors were a key priority, as was forestry and landscape resilience.  All stakeholders would have a role to play, including communities, civil society and the private sector through national and subnational partnerships.

MARJON V. KAMARA (Liberia) said that Africa was threatened by an ever-advancing desert, soil erosion on ocean fronts and unpredictable rainy seasons.  “Ultimately we are all in the same boat.  We either take the difficult steps and make the future of our planet a high global priority or we put future generations at risk,” she said.  Her country had established a Climate Change Secretariat in 2014 and had developed a national development agenda for transformation that targeted reductions in carbon emissions, climate agriculture production and defence against coastal erosion.  However, significantly increased financial flows and investments would be required for the greening of economies.

ALAN KELLY, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government of Ireland, said that the dynamic nature of the Paris Agreement was a key achievement, allowing adjustment over time.  Accountability and transparency was another crucial element.  He stressed the importance of joint implementation of the Agreement with the 2030 Agenda.  His country aimed to reduce carbon emissions significantly by 2050 in compliance with domestic legislation.  He urged all countries to work together in delivering an effective response to climate change.

HUSEYNGULU BAGHIROV, Minister for Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan, said his country had planned for low-carbon growth in the past decades and targeted significant reductions by 2030.  It was also increasing the forest coverage of its territory.  All such activity was accomplished through the use of its own resources, despite hosting a large number of displaced persons.  Therefore, ending regional conflicts according to international agreements was a high priority to enable the country to pursue climate mitigation and sustainable development.

SOMMAD PHOLSENA, Minister for Natural Resources and the Environment of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, said it would be impossible to attain sustainable development without realizing the Paris Agreement.  His country was a fervent advocate of the global climate change agenda, fully recognizing climate change as a critical development issue.  It was implementing its intended nationally determined contribution while mainstreaming climate change and disaster risk reduction into its Social Economic Development Plan, alongside the Sustainable Development Goals.

MARIA DE FÁTIMA MONTEIRO JARDIM, Minister for the Environment of Angola, said the Government was unequivocally committed to attaining the goals of the Paris Agreement and had set out to reduce emissions and to integrate climate components in the national development processes.  She called on all parties to ratify the Paris Agreement and the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol of the Climate Change Convention.  Global action was needed to ensure that climate-resilient economic development and social progress were founded on solidarity and cooperation.

SITI KASSIM, Minister for Production and the Environment of Comoros, said the transition to a greener world was no longer a choice but a necessity.  The Paris Agreement recognized the important common but differentiated responsibility of States based in part on their level of development, she said, noting that the Agreement was both dynamic and sustainable.  Nevertheless, if a strong commitment was not made to its implementation, “it will all be for nothing”.  Legally-binding rules must be put in place and developed countries must offer support to developing nations.  Comoros, like other nations, required support from the international community in mobilizing financing for mitigation and adaptation programmes.

GIANNIS TSIRONIS, Alternate Minister for the Environment and Energy of Greece, said his country, along with other European Union member States, strongly believed that an energy efficient and low-carbon economy created new jobs and development.  Recalling that the country had initiated the decarbonization of the international marine and aviation transport sectors, he said the spirit and momentum of the Paris Agreement could lead the world’s next steps into its implementation.  The struggle against climate change was not just an environmental issue.  Citing the tension and reactions in some countries caused by a possible hosting of a few hundred thousand refugees from Syria, he said the displacement of millions of climate refugees would cause major social and economic repercussions.

TEBURORO TITO, Member of Parliament and Senior Envoy of the President of Kiribati, called upon major emitters to sign and ratify the Paris Agreement as soon as possible and to cut their carbon emissions to the 1.5°C target by 2020.  His country, barely three metres above sea level, was a front line victim of climate change that had suffered much loss and damage.  It could not wait for the Agreement to come into force.  It was imperative for nations responsible for climate change to contribute to the Green Climate Fund and for the Fund to be made readily available to frontline victim nations, he said, challenging the United Nations, its Member States, the private sector, civil society and others to work with those most in need “to craft sturdy seafaring canoes and ensure that we all rise above the rising tides of climate change”.

MOTOHIDE YOSHIKAWA (Japan) called the Paris Agreement a historic achievement.  During negotiations, he said, his country advocated for a fair and effective framework that would apply to all parties.  Its implementation would be critical for sustainable development.  Signing the Agreement was only a first step to implementation.  Now it had to enter into force, with major emitters as parties to it.  Japan would contribute to setting out detailed rules for a worldwide reduction in greenhouse gases.  Noting that his country was on the side of those most affected by climate change, he said Japan would provide 1.3 trillion yen in climate financing by 2020.  Looking ahead to 2050, Japan would promote innovation as a way to maintain a balance between climate change response and economic growth.  In addition, it would contribute to global emissions reductions through a joint crediting mechanism and engage in its own emissions reduction plan.

CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said that his State recognized how developing countries, as well as those with limited capacities, needed flexibility in implementing the Paris Agreement.  It was also aware that some developing countries would require financial support.  Success would depend on the willingness of each country to plan and implement climate change measures.  As a highly industrialised country, Liechtenstein had managed to decouple its greenhouse gas emissions from economic and social growth and reduced its emissions in line with its Kyoto Protocol obligations.  From that starting point, further reductions would not be easy to achieve, but the country was committed to further steps towards establishing a low carbon economy, with a 40 per cent reduction of total greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, based on 1990 levels.

FERNANDO JORGE WAHNON FERREIRA (Cabo Verde), underscoring the vulnerability of small island developing States, called for a strong, clear and predictable statement on climate finance, capacity-building and technology transfer.  Cabo Verde, which hoped to ratify the Paris Agreement within a year, was committed to 100 per cent renewable energy in the grid by 2025, compared to 30 per cent today.  With a severe need to adapt to challenges of desertification, water scarcity and food security, Cabo Verde needed international support, especially from the United Nations system, which would help to foster an integrated approach to improve climate resilience and promote sustainable development.

MAHMOUD SAIKAL (Afghanistan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the world had committed to addressing climate change in a serious, timely and comprehensive manner.  His country was ranked among the most vulnerable and faced the adverse effects of climate change; it had extensive development and climate adaptation needs and very low levels of greenhouse gas emissions.  The majority of the country’s population relied directly on available natural resources for their livelihoods.  With those resources directly linked to climate change, the foundation of the country’s economy, stability and food security were under threat.  Afghanistan could remain a low-emission country while developing rapidly if extensive financial and other resources were made available, he said, calling, in particular, for capacity-building, technology and legal assistance.

KUNZANG NAMGYEL (Bhutan) said that, as a small landlocked country with a fragile mountain ecosystem, it was highly vulnerable to climate change.  Despite those challenges, Bhutan continued to undertake national efforts to combat that threat, while striking a balance between economic development and environmental conservation.  Noting that 72 per cent of Bhutan’s land was under forest cover, she said her State was effectively “carbon negative”.  Green growth strategies were effectively incorporated into its national development plans, she added, urging all Member States to support the country in its development endeavours.

AMINA MOHAMED, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Kenya, said her country was highly vulnerable to climate variability and change, particularly due to its dependence on climate-sensitive sectors and low adaptive capacity.  Climate change cost her country’s economy about 3 per cent of Gross Domestic Product annually.  Noting that the Paris Agreement provided the clear direction and momentum needed for global action towards a low-carbon future, she said Kenya had committed to a 30 per cent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 relative to a business-as-usual scenario, and subject to access to the necessary support.  Kenya was a world leader in renewable energy, and was sharing its expertise with other countries in Africa.  She went on to emphasize that the transition to low-carbon development would require the fulfilment of commitments of enhanced support in financing, technology transfer and capacity-building by developed countries.

KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV (Kazakhstan) said the willingness by the major industrial powers to sign and ratify the Paris Agreement was particularly significant.  That document’s signing was vitally important for all, especially the most vulnerable countries such as small island developing States.  While his country was committed to becoming a signatory to the Agreement, he would not be able to sign the document today due to the fact that internal legal procedures had not yet been finalized.  That delay was purely technical in nature, he said, stressing that the country would soon join other Member States in signing on to the Agreement.

CRISTIÁN BARROS MELET (Chile) said that, in the face of an outdated growth model, sustainable development was the challenge for today’s generation.  It was crucial to make progress in setting a global carbon price in order to cover the social and economic costs of climate change, and the role of the ocean as a climate regulator should be recognized, with mechanisms to incorporate the sea in global climate efforts.  Calling climate change a cross-cutting issue that required the involvement of all sectors of society to address, he said his country was preparing a public-private dialogue to address the issue.

IBRAHIM O. A. DABBASHI (Libya) said the Paris Agreement remained a written text that needed collective will to turn it into concrete action.  His country — 95 per cent desert with the remainder threatened by desertification — welcomed the Agreement and was committed to its implementation.  He hoped that all parties would respect their commitments and take into account the circumstances of developing countries, helping them to acquire clean technologies.  The Agreement affirmed common but differentiated responsibilities as well as a joint commitment for the future of the planet.

CHARLES T. NTWAAGAE (Botswana) said it had been imperative that the Paris Agreement be premised on the recognition of development needs and poverty eradication priorities of developing countries, while emphasizing the leadership of developed countries in climate action.  Climate change was having far-reaching consequences and his country had not been spared.  Botswana had summited its intended nationally determined contribution through which it had outlined both adaptation and mitigation efforts, and had articulated that the ability to implement such efforts would be incumbent to a large extent on the provision of support.  He expressed hope that support would be provided to developing countries as agreed.  It was also important for parties to ratify and implement the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, as his country had recently done.

KIMMO TIILIKAINEN, Minister for Agriculture and the Environment of Finland, said the Government had joined other European Union member States to commit to a binding target of at least 40 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.  At the national level, the Finnish Climate Change Act had entered into force in 2015, establishing a reduction target for greenhouse gas emissions of at least 80 per cent by 2050 as compared to 1990 levels.  The Government would prepare a new energy and climate strategy for the years 2020-2030, which would aim, among other things, at improving energy efficiency and increasing the use of biomass and other renewable energy sources.  “We need all hands on deck to meet the climate change challenge,” he said, adding that Finland was working to ratify the Paris Agreement as soon as possible.

ANDRÄ RUPPRECHTER, Federal Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management of Austria, said the agreement was more than many had dared to hope for before the Paris climate conference in 2015.  Now was the time to bring the agreement to life.  Austria was strongly determined to do its fair share and help others.  At the heart of the European Union’s intended nationally determined contribution was a commitment to reduce emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030 from 1990 levels.  Austria was currently drafting a post-2020 integrated climate and energy strategy and working towards an energy transition away from fossil fuels toward renewables.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said the signing ceremony was the “first stepping stone” in a long journey to implement the Paris Agreement.  Calling for increased investment in renewable energy, he said attention must be paid to the adaptation needs of developing countries at the appropriate scale.  He described some of his country’s mitigation and adaptation measures, including work in the renewable energy sector and development of stress-tolerant crop varieties.  Noting that the country was preparing an intended nationally determined contribution road map, he requested all Member States to remain united in their collective journey, keeping in mind that one case of non-compliance could threaten the success of all.

National Statements (M to Z)

JAN ELIASSON, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, opening the segment, said today’s meeting would offer an opportunity to provide updates on how Governments would implement national climate plans and integrate them into national sustainable development programmes.  It could also offer a road map for achieving the objective of limiting global temperature rise to well below 2°C while providing time for Governments to ratify the Paris Agreement and indicate how they would accelerate climate actions by drawing on the ingenuity of all sectors of society.

BARON DIVAVESI WAQA, President of Nauru, spoke on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States, and said that the Paris Agreement represented a truly historic, democratic achievement.  “This is the best deal we can get for the world,” he said, emphasizing his country’s commitment to full implementation.  However, he cautioned, the deal was not necessarily a good one for island nations, which were still heading for a dangerous level of warming.  Climate change was absolutely devastating to island States.  The hardest work started now, he noted, stressing that meeting temperature goals required nothing short of transformation, a goal that called for developed countries to mobilize resources and make the transition to renewable energy.  That would bring far-reaching sustainable development co-benefits, he said.

Nauru was ready to demonstrate through home-grown solutions what a low-carbon-emission country looked like, he said, adding that the nation was proud of its small climate footprint.  The responsibility fell upon countries with the largest carbon emissions, he said, emphasizing that the stakes were high, with the world having seen unusually warm water temperatures in the last few years.  Rising temperatures were wreaking havoc on and destroying ecosystems, but climate change also had security implications, he said, calling for the appointment of a special representative on climate change and security.  It was important to be honest about limitations, because the Paris Agreement was more modest than island nations would have liked, but it had opened the door for transformative change, he said.

TOMMY ESANG REMENGESAU, JR., President of Palau, said his country had ratified the Paris Agreement today with great pride, but also with a sense of urgency.  Water levels in Palau’s capital were critically low and the Government was limiting water use to three hours a day.  Retailers had completely exhausted their supplies of bottled water, and drought had hit the island’s all-important tourist industry.  Moreover, drought conditions were expected to continue for the next two months, he said, pointing out that severe drought was certainly one of the impacts about which the world had been warned for years.

Questioning whether the Paris Agreement would help improve Palau’s water system, he said that would be the test of the accord for his island nation.  It had been very difficult to leave the country during such a crisis; it had been critical to travel to the United Nations in order to appeal to the global community, he said, underlining that the Paris Agreement would succeed only if it was driven by solidarity.  There was still an enormous amount of work ahead, and while the world marked a great achievement on Earth Day, observed today, it was only the first step towards low carbon emissions.

HASSAN SHEIKH MOHAMUD, President of Somalia, said his country needed to build institutions, develop policies and strengthen its capacities to ensure that its development included dimensions that were important at the global and local levels.  Somalia was in a reconstruction process, seeking to integrate plans to address climate change into its overall sustainable development programmes.  Committed to meeting its climate change obligations, Somalia was working to ensure that its institutions incorporated the environmental dimensions of adaptation and mitigation.

While the world’s largest economies had damaged the air, water and soil, Somalia would ensure that would not happen to its environment during its reconstruction, he said, adding that it would devise energy-efficient rebuilding plans.  Indeed, 2015 had marked a turning point — a “burden shift” — in Somalia’s development agenda.  The country would ensure that its climate change strategy was linked to the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, adding that Somalia had made remarkable progress in planet-compatible development.

FILIP VUJANOVIĆ, President of Montenegro, said that, despite his country’s low share in emission and population statistics, it had, nonetheless, contributed to implementation of the new global development framework and was ready to deliver sustainable management of its development potential.  In that context, Montenegro had supported completion of the twenty-first Conference of Parties, in line with provisions of the Paris Agreement, and would confirm its national contributions to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.  It hoped to complete confirmation procedures as soon as possible.  Montenegro was committed to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 30 per cent from the 1990 base year through measures implemented on several tracks, he said, underscoring the importance of implementing adaptation activities.

ANDREJ KISKA, President of Slovakia, said the adoption of the Paris Agreement was an historic milestone that had given the world new hope.  By signing the Agreement, the international community had confirmed its determination to act together.  In order to secure a liveable planet for future generations, all countries must be more sustainable in their production and consumption patterns, he said, before acknowledging that the Agreement would not be easy to implement.

While stressing the need for contributions from all countries, he said that he respected the conditions and capacities of each.  Climate change affected all in so many ways, he continued, calling upon all to adapt to becoming more resilient.  As a small landlocked country in Europe, Slovakia was in the mild climate zone, where forests and water resources were plentiful.  Noting that the last decades had been very dry and warm, he said Slovakia intended to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030.  The desired results could only be achieved through cooperation at all levels, he said, reiterating his country’s commitment to implementing the new Agreement.

HORACIO MANUEL CARTER JARA, President of Paraguay, said world leaders had affirmed in November 2015 their commitment to reaching an ambitious and concrete result in the universal fight against climate change.  Today, Member States were taking part in the historic moment for the Paris Agreement, which aimed to define the world’s future.  Given the enormous and urgent environmental challenges the world was facing, it was up to the current generation to achieve high-impact results in preserving the environment, he said.

The Government of Paraguay would continue to work on the production of clean and renewable electric power through two of the largest hydroelectric dams in the world, he said.  Furthermore, the country would strengthen the National Commission on Climate Change, which was responsible for policymaking and enforcing environmental actions, in coordination with civil society.  Pledging to send the Agreement immediately to the Congress, he expressed hope that the legislature would ratify it in 2016.

MAHAMADOU ISSOUFOU, President of Niger, reaffirmed his country’s willingness to speed up the ratification process, saying that his Government would submit a draft of the Agreement for a vote in the National Assembly in the next few months.  Emphasizing the importance of the principle of shared but differentiated responsibility, he said Niger would continue to believe that all global efforts should be focused on achieving the objective of bringing down the rising global temperature.

He stressed the importance of implementing the Agreement, and said that, for its own part, Niger would focus on strengthening the mobilization of internal resources, promoting private investment, diversifying production, and creating jobs, especially for women and young people.  Niger would also focus on eradicating extreme poverty, but global action would still be needed in the form of financial assistance and technology.  Supporting regional and subregional projects, including plans to save Lake Chad, was on the “front line” in terms of implementing the Agreement and achieving sustainable development, he said.  That would in turn pull least developed countries out of poverty.

TOMISLAV NIKOLIĆ, President of Serbia, said that the Paris Agreement was one of the most vital steps in the development of modern civilization, and yet another incentive to embrace multilateralism and closer ties.  Scientists agreed that the average global temperature would rise a few degrees by the end of the twenty-first century, and the severity of natural disasters would grow.  Not a single State, size and economic growth notwithstanding, was immune to the whims of nature, he emphasized.  The Agreement was just the first step of the long and painful journey of implementation, yet Serbia was confident that unanimity and understanding would help materialize what had been achieved.

The consequences of climate change would add to the tensions caused by stark inequalities around the world, he said, noting that imposing any limitations would have the strongest impact on the weakest.  Politicians had the responsibility for planning and adjusting the activities of the State and society to every possible scenario.  For its own part, Serbia had defined the necessary steps for implementing the Paris Agreement very precisely, cognizant of all challenges ahead.  Based on the national strategy to combat climate change, its intended nationally determined contribution would be renewed by 2019, and Serbia was working to establish a viable monitoring, reporting and verification system until then.

HAGE G. GEINGOB, President of Namibia, said that protection of the environment was not only enshrined in international conventions, but also in his country’s constitution.  Namibia understood the critical importance of preserving and saving its soil, he added, quoting Franklin Delano Roosevelt:  “A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself.”  He outlined steps that his country had taken to wage an “all-out war” against poverty and the destruction of its soil, emphasizing that preserving the soil was critical to attaining prosperity for all of Namibia’s citizens.  The Paris Agreement was a critical turning point in terms of saving the soil and would only succeed if the international community truly committed the political will needed for its implementation.

HILDA C. HEINE, President of the Marshall Islands, said that, while the Paris Agreement was not perfect, it was something the world was ready to take forward immediately.  Intended nationally determined contributions would not secure the future, she said, emphasizing that ambition was the Agreement’s most important pillar.  The document’s language was more than just casual words; it constituted legally binding commitments, she said, noting that her low-lying nation’s future, and indeed the well-being of the world, depended upon revisiting efforts and pushing innovation forward.  Recalling that one of her new Government’s first actions had been to declare a state of emergency due to severe drought, she said rising seas were also a reality.  Climate change threatened not only the development of the Marshall Islands, but their very boundaries and security.  Implementation of the country’s intended nationally determined contribution, one of the most ambitious submitted, would require more effective and innovative international partnerships.

ROBERT MUGABE, President of Zimbabwe, said his country was committed to playing an active role in global efforts to save the planet.  In 2015, Zimbabwe had submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change its intended nationally determined contributions towards reducing emissions, aiming to reduce emissions by 33 per cent below the projected business-as-usual emissions per capita by 2030.  Zimbabwe had established a high-level committee to ensure implementation and monitoring of its contributions, aware of their cross-cutting nature.

Noting that Southern Africa was suffering its worst drought in more than 35 years, he said it had been induced by El Niño and had caused crop failure while drastically reducing hydropower generation.  Zimbabwe was implementing a national climate change response strategy seeking to mainstream its efforts across all economic sectors, notably agriculture, water, energy and tourism.  The Paris Agreement confirmed that robust collective action recognizing national circumstances was a prerequisite in that fight.  Emphasizing that developed countries were expected to take the lead, he said adaptation remained a priority for Africa, which was already bearing burdens that were reversing development gains.

MAHMOUD ABBAS, President of the State of Palestine, said it had become a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and was participating for the first time as a full signatory, having signed and ratified the Paris Agreement.  The suffering of the Palestinian people was ongoing, while Israeli settlements destroyed nature in Palestine.  He requested help in ending the occupation and related activities, saying Palestine was committed to the Agreement’s full implementation for its own sake and that of the entire planet.

BIBI AMEENAH FIRDAUS GURIB-FAKIM, President of Mauritius, said the mere presence of so many Heads of State and ministers at today’s signing ceremony bore testimony to the Paris Agreement’s critical importance.  Climate change was a question of life and death for too many countries, but especially least developing ones and small island States.  Mauritius had just signed the Paris Agreement and deposited its instrument of ratification.  International support was crucial to efforts to adapt to the negative impact of climate change, which affected so many sectors of society, she said, calling for adequate resources to be made available for that purpose.  Let there be no digression from the course at hand, she stressed.

PETER CHRISTIAN, President of the Federated States of Micronesia, said leaders had come to New York this week to demonstrate that their resolve from Paris was still very much alive.  However, it was crucial to aim higher than “our paper targets” and shorten timelines wherever possible.  Emphasizing the need to assure the world’s people and children that “we can walk beyond the talk”, he said the proof of success would be in the Paris Agreement’s implementation.  Words must be translated into concrete and equitable actions, and the Federates States of Micronesia would commit to the challenge by meeting targets and delivering on promises.  “What little we have, what little we know, we promise to commit to the success of our agreement in Paris,” he said.  Like many oceanic States, the Federated States of Micronesia had “no choice but to be a climate canary” of the world.  Hence, the Paris Agreement must live up to its pledge and deliver to keep alive hopes for a better future.

MACKY SALL, President of Senegal, said that from Paris to New York, the severity of the climate conditions seen since the Paris Conference was a signal of the urgency ahead.  Calling for keeping global temperature rise down to no more than 2°C, in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, he emphasized that the term “common” meant that each country would contribute to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, in part by transitioning to less polluting sources.  Senegal would be making a 21 per cent reduction between the present and 2030, thanks to clean energy sources.  However, “shared responsibility” did not mean without equity, he pointed out.  When countries developing at a slower rate were asked to give up more of their polluting energy sources, equity required that other States assist them by providing compensation, including through the Green Fund, which itself must not be understood as an assistance mechanism, but, rather, one for compensation, and its funding should not be exclusively voluntary.

DORIS LEUTHARD, Vice-President of Switzerland, said the world had never before been so united in protecting climate.  Signing the Paris Agreement was more than a symbolic gesture, she said, adding:  “We are saying ‘yes’ to a world that will gradually leave the fossil fuel era behind it.”  By producing more renewable energy, more carbon-neutral public and private transport and ensuring greater energy efficiency, the international community could greatly reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, and the Agreement was the best basis for innovation, new technologies and services geared towards a low-emission economy, she said, noting that, for that reason, Switzerland was aiming to ratify the Agreement by the end of 2017.  Success would depend on political will, effective implementation measures and putting a price on carbon dioxide, while removing fossil fuel subsidies must constitute a major goal.

DELCY RODRÍGUEZ, Vice-President for Political Sovereignty and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Venezuela, said her country had just signed the Paris Agreement for three reasons:  solidarity with the planet; resolute commitment to international law; and the opportunity to preserve the planet.  It was an important Agreement, but not yet a sufficient step forward.  Natural disasters, floods and drought were affecting, not only people’s livelihoods, but their very right to enjoy sustainable development, she said, adding that there was a huge ecological debt on the part of developed countries, and emphasizing the need for the countries responsible for climate change to shoulder their share of responsibility.  “If we do not take on the commitment to preserve the planet, there would be terrible consequences,” she stressed.  Countries of the North must take responsibility for the effects of their actions on the countries of the South.  The capitalist model was mainly responsible for climate change and addressing that would require a complete shift in patterns of consumption and production, she said.

MARIA SORAYA SÁENZ DE SANTAMARIA ANTON, Vice-President of Spain, said the Paris Agreement was based on knowledge made available by the scientific community and encouraged by youth, as well as academia.  “Today, we can all say together that we have succeeded,” she said, emphasizing that the perseverance and solidarity demonstrated were worthy of praise.  The Agreement was an example of the “very best” of international cooperation.  Adverse climate phenomena, however, did not understand politics and borders.  The Agreement established a system of global solidarity based on fair and balanced initiatives, and in signing it, the world was committing itself to its children and grandchildren.  “Every generation is responsible to the next and to the next,” she stressed.  Spain, for its own part, had committed to reducing its emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 and had increased its annual contributions to climate financing.

RUHAKANA RUGUNDA, Prime Minister of Uganda, noted that his country was Chair of the African Group for April, and said that countries on the continent were facing challenges in financing priority climate issues, strengthening national capacities and accessing technologies critical for mitigation and adaption.  He urged the developed world to partner with those countries in addressing the gaps, in accordance with the Paris Agreement and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  They should mobilize and provide new and additional resources, support enhanced scientific and technological innovations and increase assistance for institutional capacity-building.

Speaking in his national capacity, he reported that Uganda had taken action to operationalize some of the Agreement’s provisions.  It had integrated measures to address climate change into its national aspirations, notably the Uganda Vision 2040 plan and the second National Development Plan.  The new Government, to be sworn in on 20 May, had prioritized climate change over the next five years, with renewable energy use and the demarcation of wetlands and forest boundaries as cornerstones of policy actions to be taken.  In line with the relevant national laws, Uganda had initiated a process to domesticate the Agreement, he said.

BEATA SZYDŁO, Prime Minister of Poland, said that while the European Union was fully committed to the Paris Agreement, it was important to remember that it was responsible for not much more than 10 per cent of global emissions.  Effectively halting climate change was contingent upon all parties carrying out their respective responsibilities, she said, emphasizing that parties that had received support from the European Union and elsewhere must fulfil their commitments.  Poland was a strong advocate for effective, practical solutions and supported initiatives that used carbon sinks and greenhouse-gas repositories, such as forests, to neutralize emissions.  The Agreement was an opportunity to coordinate the use of innovative market instruments and standardize their use, he said, calling for solidarity with the countries most affected by climate change, and expressing hope that the Green Climate Fund would be used effectively to that end.

TUILAEPA SAILELE MALIELEGAOI, Prime Minister of Samoa, said a record number of States had signed the Paris Agreement, and those that had signed, as well as deposited their instruments of ratification were all small island developing States, including his own.  Such a bold move had vindicated the Alliance of Small Island States as the “voice of morality” in the context of climate change, an existential issue for some of its members.  Despite its negligible contribution to emissions, Samoa was making efforts to show that it wished to be part of the solution, having established a target of 100 per cent electricity generating from renewable sources by 2017, to be maintained until 2025.  The focus of Samoa’s intended nationally determined contribution was on mitigation, and the Government planned to communicate a revised contribution in 2020, as well as every five years thereafter.  Doing so would require the removal of barriers, supported by policy actions and development projects, he said.

TIMOTHY S. HARRIS, Prime Minster of Saint Kitts and Nevis, reaffirmed his country’s commitment to reaching 22 per cent and 35 per cent reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions from levels projected in “business-as-usual” emission scenarios for 2025 and 2030, respectively.  He said his Government would implement national climate plans and integrate them into overall sustainable development plans.  It had been working on a road map for increasing efforts to limit global temperature rise to well-below 2°C, and by 2020, it hoped to produce nearly 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources, with the aim of becoming the world’s first “green” country.  The Government had passed legislation in December 2015 to accommodate the commercial use of all renewable energy sources, he said.  It had decided that it would expand exploration of geothermal energy, while its water strategy would include ongoing deep-well drilling to mitigate the susceptibility of coastal aquifers to sea level rise.

MIRO CERAR, Prime Minister of Slovenia, said the climate change journey would not be easy and the results would not be accomplished overnight.  With the Paris Agreement, humankind had made the commitment to ensure respect for human rights.  That would require a fundamental shift in business practices, so that generations to come could still access prosperity.  The next step must be swift ratification of the Paris Agreement, so that it could contribute to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  He emphasized the need to preserve water and forests.  Slovenia was developing a national strategy for monitoring and assessing its progress on climate change, he said.  Only through a united effort could the planet become “green”, sustainable and prosperous for everyone, he said, emphasizing that the common goal should be to heal and protect the planet for generations to come.

SERGE TELLE, Minister of State and Head of Government of Monaco, said the principality had for a long time assumed its responsibility to the world, despite its small size and geographical constraints.  On the national level, Monaco sought a 50 per cent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030, he said.  Noting that development assistance and the fight against climate change were two aspects of one need, he said they could be addressed by promoting core principles and virtues.  As it built on its efforts, Monaco hoped that the role of the Green Climate Fund would be strengthened, and that it would not increase the debt of beneficiary countries.  The process would not end today, he said, adding:  “We are fighting for the planet.”

CHARLOT SALWAI TABIMASMAS, Prime Minister of Vanuatu, said the road to Paris had been long and difficult, but the challenges presented there had actually been affecting his country for decades.  Evidence of climate change was quite clear for the people of Vanuatu as they experienced a lack of food and other problems never before registered or recorded.  It was the responsibility of developed countries to reduce emissions, and world leaders must be serious in that effort, he emphasized.  The need for compensation must be taken into account for damage done because of climate change, he said.  Vanuatu would stick to the Paris Agreement, but developed countries should take the lead in mobilizing climate financing and assistance to deal with related issues.  While Vanuatu approved of some parts of the Paris Agreement, it fell short in other areas and did not quite address challenges faced by the most vulnerable, he pointed out.

PAUL SINTENTELA DLAMINI, Deputy Prime Minister of Swaziland, said climate action should not undermine gains in poverty reduction and sustainable economic development.  Like all countries in Southern Africa, Swaziland was experiencing the largest effects of El Niño, resulting in one of the worst-ever droughts to occur in the country.  Swaziland would soon commence the necessary national processes to facilitate ratification of the Paris Agreement, he said, describing climate change as not only a complex environmental problem, but a moral and ethical challenge, as well as a threat to the world’s population and livelihoods.  He urged people and leaders to stand together to act decisively and seize the opportunity that the climate crisis presented, while facilitating an early entry into force of the Paris Agreement.

SIAOSI SOVALENI, Deputy Prime Minister of Tonga, said the effects of climate change were urgent in small island developing States, whose capacities must be strengthened, but neither at the cost of their sustainable development efforts, nor efforts to improve health, education and social welfare.  Noting that the Pacific region produced 0.03 per cent of global emissions, he said small islands had shown “tremendous” leadership in terms of their climate change commitments.  Tonga was committed to ensuring progress that would enable early ratification of the Paris Agreement, and had embarked on an energy road map to allow its use of renewable energy to rise dramatically.  Its intended nationally determined contributions reflected a commitment to doubling the number of marine-protected areas by 2030, and to ensure emissions reductions in the transport and agriculture sectors through environmentally sound waste management and reforestation, he said.

ÅSA ROMSON, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Climate and Environment of Sweden, said her country would work for rapid ratification of the Paris Agreement.  Noting that financial market actors had started to move their investments away from fossil energy, she said that was a sign that future development lay in low-carbon economies.  The renewable energy industry had employed some 7.7 million people in 2014, and by 2015, that figure had jumped 18 per cent, she noted.  The Fossil-Free Sweden initiative covered the business sector, local authorities and others who were challenging counterparts around the world to “get to fossil-free first”.  Partnership with all actors was the Swedish model for fighting climate change, and the country intended to ensure that its emission-reduction efforts were long-term, clear and transparent, she said, adding that the Government would propose a new climate law and an independent climate policy council, with the aim of reducing emissions by at least 85 per cent no later than 2045, compared to 1990 levels.

KAMAL THAPA, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, said the Paris Agreement marked the culmination of the search for a binding climate instrument.  Nepal had played a vital role in that process, including as lead negotiator for the least developed countries.  Nepal would submit its ratification instrument at the earliest opportunity, he said, noting that, among its domestic priorities, was mainstreaming climate change into all national policies and strategies.  A national adaptation plan was being formulated to address medium- and long-term needs, while a new development plan under preparation would seek to integrate the Sustainable Development Goals and consider climate plans, beginning in mid-July.  The Government also intended to formulate a low-carbon development strategy, maintain 40 per cent of land under forest cover and reduce the air pollution rate by 2025.  Implementation of the Paris accord required partnership with the private sector, civil society and others, he said, noting that Nepal had created an enabling environment for foreign direct investment in low-carbon development.

SURASAK KANJANARAT, Minister for Natural Resources and Environment of Thailand, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, stressed the need to lower global carbon emissions and pursue efforts to decrease global temperatures.  The focus now must be on implementing the Agreement, including through action on adaptation for developing countries.  On mitigation, he said developed countries must continue to take the lead.

Building capacity for climate-change action in developing countries was crucial because it facilitated national ownership, he said, pointing out that the Group of 77 had been the most affected by climate change, and yet, was already undertaking ambitious measures to prevent harm and to move towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Developed countries had a responsibility to support their developing counterparts in their endeavours, he said, emphasizing that in the fight against climate change, the Group of 77 stood ready and willing to play its part and to make a commitment to the present, as well as future generations to come.

THORIQ IBRAHIM, Minister for Environment and Energy of the Maldives, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island Developing States, said he had had the honour of signing the Paris Agreement today on behalf of his country.  A few weeks ago, the Maldives had joined a group of small islands that had been the first to complete their domestic ratification of the Agreement.  “It is no accident that islands are acting so quickly,” he said, stressing that their very survival depended on moving from ratification to implementation.  While they faced an onslaught of storms fuelled by record temperatures, and needed help in rebuilding, small islands were showing that solutions were within reach, he said.  The Maldives was working to make its infrastructure climate-proof, and had set a goal of installing renewable electricity generation that would meet up to 30 per cent of daytime peak load within the next three years.  The national climate plan aimed to be more ambitious as climate solutions became more affordable, he said.

MIREI ENDARA DE HERAS, Minister for Environment of Panama, speaking on behalf of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, described the Paris Agreement as a cornerstone for implementing proposed targets within the framework of multilateral cooperation.  Its article 5 recognized the reality that there was no more cost-effective measure for fighting climate change than planting trees, she said, calling for an immediate flow of resources.

Speaking in her national capacity, she said Panama had contributed only 0.02 per cent of global emissions.  The country was a hub for maritime trade, and in June, it would inaugurate a new set of sluice gates, which would help to prevent 160 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.  Last week, Panama had become the third country to present its intended nationally determined contribution for mitigation, she recalled, noting that it had also contributed to the Green Climate Fund.  Cooperation in transforming changing climate into a health-inducing one was a priority, as was ratification of the Agreement, she said.

ZAHID HAMID, Minister for Climate Change of Pakistan, said his country had joined the consensus in Paris because its objectives aligned with those of the Climate Change Convention.  The temperature in Pakistan had risen and its 5,000 glaciers were receding faster than those in any other part of the world, he said, adding that the country was already water-stressed.  Pakistan’s national priority was to ensure economic growth, while avoiding the “business-as-usual” attitude of increasing emissions.  It would present its intended nationally determined contributions, promote the imperative of development and address environmental concerns.  The national sustainable development policy framework, Vision 2025, accounted for climate change policy and associated objectives.  Pakistan would establish a climate change council and a climate change authority, he said, adding that more than 5 per cent of its annual budget was allocated to climate change activities.  Adequate resources were critical for climate actions in developing countries, he noted.

JOSEPH MUSCAT, Prime Minister of Malta, said that, after many years of tedious and arduous negotiations, the world had managed to seal a legally binding agreement towards the transition to a climate-neutral and resilient global economy.  The resilience of Member States depended on understanding how things had changed and what kind of added value could be provided in the new geopolitical world order of the twenty-first century.  The next 10 to 15 years would be critical for States to limit global warming well below 2°C.  “The longer we wait, the costlier initiating action becomes and the damage caused by climate change will be more extensive and expensive,” he said.  Together, with the other European Union member States, Malta had shared its experiences in the human resource aspects of capacity-building, intersectoral climate governance and the formulation of energy plans.  Stressing that there was no “Planet B”, he said the time was ripe for enhancing the environmental and socioeconomic fabric of the world’s nations, while addressing the needs of vulnerable nations.

VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore, said the Paris Agreement’s positive impact would catalyse the intergenerational changes required to secure future climate safety.  Stressing the need to maintain the momentum of the Agreement, she said all parties should continue to take decisive pre-2020 actions to create a solid foundation for the post-2020 era.  Many developing countries faced challenges in achieving coherence in public policies and measures.  The nationally determined contribution cycle under the Paris Agreement provided all countries, especially developing countries, with a regular opportunity to undertake such efforts.  “Paris proved that difficult conversations, if held in an open and transparent environment, can lead us to balanced and inclusive outcomes,” he said, urging States to set aside the contentious, confrontational conversations of the past and acknowledge that the Paris Agreement was built upon a spirit of cooperation and collaboration.

RAMÓN JESÚS P. PAJE, Secretary for the Environment and Natural Resources of the Philippines, outlined national actions to address climate change through its intended nationally determined contribution.  Despite financial constraints, the Philippines had implemented a national climate action plan and integrated related issues into national and local development plans and budgets.  Those initiatives would also bring mitigation and adaptation efforts to subnational levels.  A greenhouse-gas inventory management and reporting system was being developed to create a transparent and accurate emissions baseline.  A highly vulnerable country, the Philippines had committed to contribute its fair share to global action, in line with the Manila-Paris Declaration of the Climate Vulnerable Forum.  Developed countries must do more to raise their own contribution ambition to be compatible with the 1.5°C threshold and their funding contribution to action plans of vulnerable countries.

LORD BOURNE of Aberystwyth, Minister for Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Climate Change of the United Kingdom, said that an unprecedented number of countries had signed the landmark agreement, which would generate global action to reduce the impact of climate change and foster climate resilience.  Describing the Paris Agreement as universal and irreversible, he stressed that it encouraged Member States to achieve their shared goals.  As part of the European Union, his country had tabled the most ambitious goals in the area of climate change.  One of them was to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030.  He was pleased to announce that the Government would allocate £10 million to capacity-building activities for transparency with a view to helping developing countries meet international requirements.

ABDOULAYE DIOP, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and African Integration of Mali, said that 2015 had been a pivotal year for international negotiations, including the Sustainable Development Summit, Conference on Financing for Development and the Climate Summit.  As a landlocked country in the Sahel region, Mali continued to face serious challenges.  He expressed hope that international financial support would enable the most vulnerable countries to cope with challenges posed by climate change.  For its part, the Government had prioritized the promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency and a green economy.  Concluding, he noted that the President had instructed the ratification of the Agreement at the next governmental meeting on 27 April.

BOMO EDITH EDNA MOLEWA, Minister for Environmental Affairs of South Africa, said the domestic ratification and procedures for the Agreement were under way and the Government had enacted a climate change response policy with a clear greenhouse-gas mitigation and adaptation framework reflected in its national development plan.  The first five-year climate change response cycle had begun and the next, beginning in 2020, would be mandatory, requiring businesses to submit pollution prevention plans and budgets for them.  The Government was also implementing programmes to promote energy efficiency, green transport and eco-friendly housing, and was investing in the electricity sector.  Renewable energy initiatives already had leveraged $20 billion in investments since their launch a few years ago.  The Government was finalizing a national adaptation plan focused on reducing vulnerability to drought.

PAUL HERBERT OQUIST KELLEY, Minister and Private Secretary for National Policies to the President of Nicaragua, expressed concern that the last three years had been the warmest on record, with the world experiencing one of the strongest El Niño phenomena since 1950.  The Paris Agreement lacked a bid for urgent action as called for by Goal 13 to address weather patterns that threatened to displace millions of people.  It was a moral imperative to avoid the hazards of climate change.  The Paris Agreement had no legal provisions to compensate for losses and developing countries had been forced to renounce their right to demand compensation from parties responsible for climate change.  “It is not ethical or consistent to evoke human rights in the agreement, but at same time, require that developing countries renounce their legal rights, including the right to damages caused by others,” he said, adding that doing so created a new “neo-colonial asymmetry with the greatest polluters seeing their responsibilities pardoned”.  Nicaragua would not sign the Paris Agreement and hoped other countries would exert pressure on countries to prevent a global temperature rise of 3°C or more.

CAMILLO GONSALVES, Minister for Economic Planning, Sustainable Development, Industry, Information and Labour of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said his country would deposit its instrument of ratification of the Paris Agreement within days and urged all Member States to ratify the accord as soon as possible.   The document spoke more to aspiration than action, with no enforcement mechanism to accomplish the crucial goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C.  Instead, it relied on a deeply flawed system of voluntary national commitments that to date had proven to be woefully ineffective.  The accord was not the final word on climate change, but a first hopeful step towards the future that was desired.  “The true measure of this accord will boil down to dollars and degrees,” he said.

PAULA BENNETT, Minister for Climate Change Issues of New Zealand, noting the importance of agricultural exports, said practical solutions were being sought to reduce emissions without detrimentally affecting its farmers and food supply.  New agricultural mitigation technologies represented an opportunity to address that challenge, she said.  While 80 per cent of New Zealand’s energy came from renewable sources, the Government was aiming to lift that to 90 per cent and was also supporting its Pacific neighbours to adopt clean energy.  To inspire action, New Zealand strongly supported the role of markets in reducing climate change, but if there was going to be any serious change in behaviour, the price of carbon needed to be higher than it was now.

CRISTIANA PASCA PALMER, Ministry for the Environment, Water and Forests of Romania, noted that, in Paris, world leaders had collectively agreed on an ambitious agenda that aimed at addressing climate change phenomenon.  Along with the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement was a milestone in redefining the economic and development outlook.  As 2016 marked the beginning of the implementation phase, international cooperation was essential for successful outcomes.  In line with the European Union 2030 climate and energy framework, her country intended to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030 while ensuring constant economic growth.  Further, the Government had developed a national action plan, outlining targets, such as awareness-raising and increased partnerships.

KHEMAIS JHINAOUI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tunisia, commended the efforts that had made the Paris Agreement possible.  Reiterating Tunisia’s commitment to building a sustainable future, he said efforts in line with the 2030 Agenda included participating in all relevant international and regional conventions, conferences and summits to exchange views and share best practices.  In its national development plan, the Government had identified addressing climate change as a priority, and aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions across all sectors by 40 per cent in 2030 from 2010 levels.  At the regional level, Tunisia would host consultations in September in cooperation with partners including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

LOUISE MUSHIKIWABO, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Rwanda, said that, as a nation that was among the most vulnerable nations to climate change, challenges remained and the real work had now begun.  Rwanda had already taken a proactive approach, being the first country to ban plastic bags.  In addition, every year, its citizens planted many trees.  The Government’s long-term national development plan and green growth strategy would see Rwanda become a developed, climate-resilient country with a low-carbon economy by 2050.  Its Green Fund, the largest of its kind in Africa, supported its commitment to build a green economy.  Rwanda would ratify the Paris Agreement as soon as possible, she said, but in order to reach its goals, additional climate financing and technology transfers needed to be put in place.

ASLOV SIRODJIDIN MUHRIDINOVICH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan, pointed to the more than 60 natural disasters that had occurred nationwide in 2014, causing loss of life and significant economic damage.  Tajikistan was not well prepared to respond to large-scale natural disasters, but was working hard to reduce fossil fuel dependency and ensure a broader the use of renewable energy.  As a mountainous country and with most of its water resources generated in mountainous areas, Tajikistan’s mountain ecosystems were of major importance for sustainable development.  Relevant adaptation measures would help those and other vulnerable systems.  The Government had adopted a national action plan to mitigate climate change and prepared three national reports.  A national strategy for adaptation would be adopted later in 2016, he said, expressing hope that developed countries, United Nations agencies, regional and international organizations would continue in cooperating to address climate change concerns.

SUSIL PREMAJAYANTHA, Minister for Science, Technology and Research of Sri Lanka, said historically valued forest and waterway preservation efforts had seen a shift as a result of rapid urbanization.  Reflecting his Government’s priority in addressing climate change issues, the President was in charge of the environmental portfolio.  The “Sri Lanka NEXT — Blue Green Era” development plan aimed at a national transformation towards a low-carbon economy, under which 10,000 climate resilient villages would be established.  Ministries had been directed to factor greenhouse emission reduction in devising long-term plans, while the Cabinet of Ministers had approved the establishment of an independent climate change commission.  In such work, Sri Lanka looked to international support for the implementation of national strategies for migration, adaptation and mobilization of climate finance.

YOON SEONG-KYU, Minister for the Environment of the Republic of Korea, said that today’s gathering was only the start of a journey.  The Republic of Korea would do its utmost for the ratification of the Paris Agreement.  The Government had already enacted a number of bold steps, including a carbon trading scheme that would be a flagship mechanism for achieving its 2030 target for intended nationally determined contributions.  Meanwhile, work was under way on a new road map for implementing that target, with innovative approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Holding the rise in global temperature to less than 2°C was an enormous challenge, but also an opportunity for growth, with evidence that a decoupling of greenhouse-gas emissions and economic growth was possible, he said, offering to share national experiences with others.

JOÃO PEDRO MATOS FERNANDES, Minister for the Environment of Portugal, associating himself with the European Union, called on States to keep an open mind and take a constructive approach to climate change negotiations in the coming years.  Portugal had gone beyond the Kyoto Protocol, having overcome the Climate Change Convention’s targets, and it was on track to meet the second goal of the commitment period for 2020.  It had further adopted national legislation to fulfil its commitments for 2030 and had implemented a national climate change programme with a reduction target of 30 to 40 per cent by 2030 from 2005 levels.  Noting that Portugal had taken important steps towards promoting renewable energy and reducing its dependence on energy imports, he said the Government was also working to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in the transportation and housing sectors.  Portugal was working closely with the African Portuguese-speaking countries in implementing mitigation and adaptation projects.

VIDAR HELGESEN, Minister for Climate and the Environment of Norway, said his Government would hopefully be able to ratify the Paris Agreement following discussions in Parliament later in 2016.  Norway aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030 and attaining carbon neutrality by 2050.  The petroleum industry had been the engine of Norway’s economy, but that was about to change as the Government was identifying how to join forces across sectors to transition to a low-emission society.  “Transition means opportunities,” he said, but the Paris Agreement required concerted action on the part of all countries, businesses, industry and other groups.

THANI AHMED AL-ZEYOUDI, Minister for Climate Change and the Environment of the United Arab Emirates, said that, although the Paris Agreement was an important milestone, the work was not over.  The next five years of negotiations would be crucial, he said, adding that, starting in May, the international community must find fair and innovative ways to incentivize all countries to reach their goals.  Further, it was necessary to design meaningful monitoring, reporting and verification systems and to ensure that developed countries fulfilled their obligations.  For its part, the United Arab Emirates had planned to create new economic and social opportunities.  The national development agenda would make the United Arab Emirates a global hub and an international model for sustainable development, he said.

RAFAEL PACCHIANO ALAMÁN, Minister for the Environment of Mexico, expressing support for the Paris Agreement, noted that it would guarantee the survival of all species on the planet.  “The Agreement is not a finish line, but a starting point,” he said, describing it as fair and ambitious.  In the last three years, Mexico had been affected by hurricanes, killing thousands of people.  Given the reality, the Government would continue to support all efforts to combat climate change.  Some actions included the creation of policy instruments to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.  However, the most urgent task was to protect human lives from global warming and extreme weather, he said, stressing that the universal access to early warning systems was crucial.

OHN WINN, Minister for National Resources and Environmental Conservation of Myanmar, said his Government’s signing of the Paris Agreement had signalled its strong commitment to tackle climate change.  The Government was developing a nationwide strategy as part of its National Comprehensive Development Plan 2030 with the aim of achieving climate resilient, low-carbon, resource-efficient and inclusive development.  Myanmar’s intended nationally determined contribution had focused on forestry and energy management, and was being implemented through national forestry, energy development and electricity efficiency plans.  Adequate resources for the Least Developed Countries Fund and the Adaptation Fund were urgently needed.  Despite limited technology and financing, Myanmar was consulting with stakeholders to develop a road map to implement its intended nationally determined contribution.  He urged developed nations to provide capacity-building, technology and financing support to developed nations to implement their respective intended nationally determined contributions.

TRAN HONG HA, Minister for Natural Resources and the Environment for Viet Nam, said the established financial, technology and capacity-building mechanisms must be fully implemented to provide effective instruments to respond to climate change consequences.  All countries must exert the highest efforts to implement their national contributions to achieve the Paris Agreement’s objectives.  Developed countries must demonstrate their leadership by fulfilling commitments and mobilizing and providing financial resources for technology development and transfers.  Viet Nam was very vulnerable to climate change and its impacts, with the ongoing severe drought and salt intrusion in the Mekong Delate and Central Highlands having already caused $240 million in losses as it threatened the livelihoods of millions of people.  The Government was developing a concrete plan to reduce by 8 per cent greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030, he said, calling for support from the international community in the eras of finance, technology and capacity-building.

SAMURA M.W. KAMARA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Sierra Leone, delivering a statement on behalf of President Ernest Bai Koroma, said climate change posed a huge challenge to development.  Last year, unprecedented floods had hit cities in Sierra Leone, claiming lives, displacing thousands of people and destroying many homes, farms and businesses.  Encouraging developed countries to provide financial and technological resources, he called for action not only to lower greenhouse-gas emissions, but also to strengthen the capacity of developing countries to deal with climate change consequences.  Reiterating Sierra Leone’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, he said green growth was an integral part of the Government’s current five-year development plan.  In addition, an environmental protection agency had been established, in collaboration with development partners.

MOHAMMED BIN ABDULLAH AL-RUMAIHI, Minister for Municipality and Environment of Qatar, welcomed the signing of the Paris Agreement and its ambitious goals to address climate change.  His Government’s commitment to the Climate Change Convention was clear, as evidenced by Qatar’s participation in conference and meetings related to its implementation, including the Paris climate conference, and the submission of its intended nationally determined contribution.  He expressed hope that accord’s provisions would be fully implemented.

JAMES FLETCHER, Minister for Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology of Saint Lucia, said the Cabinet had endorsed a national climate change action plan.  While not a significant contributor to greenhouse-gas emissions, Saint Lucia was pursuing a complete transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy, and expected to surpass the aims stated in its intended nationally determined contribution.  The Government had recruited youth, artists and others to support actions to minimize climate change and build a green future.  Developed country partners must honour their commitments, particularly to slow temperature rise to 1.5°C.  If they failed to respect commitments to a low-carbon future, ocean desertification and sea-level rises would increase.  Without new streams of climate finance, small island developing States would have to rely solely on their scant domestic resources to address climate change, he said, noting that Saint Lucia was among the first of countries to have signed and ratified the Paris Agreement.

DENG DENG HOC YAI, Minister for the Environment of South Sudan, associating himself with the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of 77, said implementing the Paris Agreement would not be easy and that developed countries must do their utmost to implement the provisions related to mitigation.  Developing countries would be unable to do their part without significant, predictable and additional finances from developed countries, he said, adding that least developed countries alone could not be expected to cover all costs.  “We must be prepared to pay money for climate action or we will continue to pay with our lives,” he said, noting that his country had already submitted its national climate action plan.

BATTSEREG NAMDAG, Minister for Environment, Green Development and Tourism of Mongolia, stressed that the adoption of the Paris Agreement would play a key role in achieving low-carbon development.  As one of the countries vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, Mongolia was working tirelessly to overcome those challenges.  The Government had developed national action plans and was taking necessary measures to enforce related policies.  Further, the Parliament had approved Vision 2030, a plan that aimed at establishing an inclusive economy and providing quality jobs and income generation.  To make further progress, Mongolia needed technical assistance in the area of capacity-building, he said.

MILNER TOZAKA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Solomon Islands, congratulating all for being part of the historic act of signing the Paris Agreement, noted that its ratification was a natural step forward.  For its part, the Government had introduced two projects with a view to reducing the Solomon Island’s carbon footprint.  At the moment, the Government was reviewing its national development strategy, which aimed at enhancing climate mitigation and resilience and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 45 per cent by 2030.  Recently, the ministry had developed a geothermal project, requiring international support for implementation, he said.

SHARON DIJKSMA, Minister for Infrastructure and the Environment of the Netherlands, said that, since 1990, national efforts had successfully coupled emissions reduction and economic growth, and it looked forward to sharing its experiences.  The European Union would double the current emissions reduction target to 40 per cent by 2030, with the Netherlands enacting domestic legislation to achieve that.  It was essential to reduce emissions through phasing down hydrofluorocarbons, which could be achieved at low costs and could start in 2020.  Regarding carbon pricing, clear price signals were needed to help realize the Sustainable Development Goals.  The Netherlands would host a high-level dialogue on carbon pricing in the coming months, she said, adding that it was essential to pursue the Paris Agreement’s goals without delay, particularly efforts to limit a temperature rise to 1.5°C.  The Agreement marked the beginning, not the end of the road, she concluded.

HASSAN ABDELGADIR HILAL, Minister for the Environment, Forestry and Physical Development of Sudan, associating himself with the African Group, said Sudan was committed to all the Paris Agreement’s provisions.  Calling on all countries to follow suit and move away from unilateral actions, he said Sudan aimed at implementing the accord and attracting support and funding towards that end through sectoral development programmes.  Sudan was among the African and least developed countries that had adopted the Agreement to keep the temperature rise to 1.5°C.  It would adopt a national approach to end greenhouse-gas emissions and forest degradation and to support reforestation.  Reaffirming a determination to ratify the accord, Sudan sought the cooperation and support to do so.  Among national efforts were policies that supported solar, wind and hydropower.

CONSTÂNCIO DA CONCEIÇÃO PINTO, Minister for Commerce, Industry and the Environment of Timor-Leste, said the Paris Agreement was a promise to those who were most vulnerable and whose lives were already being affected by the onslaught of climate change.  His country, like other least developed countries and small island developing States, had not contributed to the cause of climate change, however, its effects had amplified existing and future development challenges.  Changing rainfall patterns, floods, landslides, soil erosion, drought and rising sea levels had an impact across all key development sectors and threatened Timor-Leste’s food, energy, water, resources and social security.  Urging developed countries to take the lead in reducing their emissions and fulfilling long-standing pledges on means of implementation, he said his country’s intended nationally determined contribution covered both adaptation and mitigation priorities and actions.

NIERMALA BADRISING, Minister for Foreign Affairs for Suriname, said her country was proud of its status as significantly carbon-negative, and in that spirit, would remain committed to contributing to the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions.  As a low-lying coast country, Suriname’s population, its fertile soils and production sector were all at risk from sea-level rise, and to address that challenge, the Government was urging the development of technical and financial support mechanisms to help developing countries.  That would enable them to implement migration policies, compensate for loss and damages, provide for technology and safeguard food production.  To attain a more effective forecast of climate events and analyse weather data, the Government had recognized the crucial role played by the National Climate Institute, she said, adding that Suriname had also taken steps to protect its ecosystems and establish nature reserves, which now made up almost 13 per cent of the national territory.

DENNIS MOSES, Minister for Foreign and Caribbean Community Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago, said that his Government was aligning its approach to climate change with its implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, given the high level of complementarity between that Agenda and the Paris Agreement.  Notwithstanding Trinidad and Tobago’s energy-based economy, the Government had set a target of drawing 10 per cent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2021, he said.  It had also put fiscal incentives and disincentives in place to encourage the use of alternative, as well as hybrid fuel technology in the transport sector, with public buses already powered by compressed natural gas.  Given the need for partnerships to make plans bear fruit, the Government was consulting with stakeholders on a low-emission capacity-building programme and an implementation plan for its intended nationally determined contribution, he said.

ANTÓNIO GUMENDE (Mozambique), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the African Group, said a national vulnerability to natural disasters due largely to its geographic location could be seen by the current impact of floods in the north and droughts in the south.  That situation had undermined efforts towards the realization of Mozambique’s five-year programme for reducing poverty and promoting social and economic development.  As part of its commitment under the Paris Agreement, Mozambique was sharing information with various actors to establish a multisectoral implementation mechanism to better identify opportunities and reinforce climate action ambitions.  Furthermore, in the process of implementing its national strategy on climate-change mitigation and adaptation, it was preparing local plans for adaptation and implementation strategies, adjusted to obligations under the Paris Agreement.

ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay) said the Paris Agreement was an extremely ambitious document that aimed to combat climate change for the future that the world wanted.  The Government had actively engaged in the relevant negotiations at all levels.  As a country with the majority of its population living in coastal areas, Uruguay had been affected by extreme weather and climate events, he said, noting in that regard, that Uruguay had established transformative policies in the energy sector.  While doing so, the Government had ensured the participation of civil society, academia and the private sector in all discussions.

AKSOLTAN ATAEVA (Turkmenistan) said the Government had adopted its national forest programme in 2013, with a view to protecting existing forest land and preventing further degradation.  Furthermore, it was developing a national mitigation and adaptation plan using modern technology and innovative tools.  The plan aimed to stabilize the growth of greenhouse-gas emissions and reduce their volume by 2020, she said.

RUPA ABRAHAM MULINA (Papua New Guinea), urging  those who were yet to sign to do so, said his country was eager to translate the Paris Agreement into national action and had, therefore, embarked on the pre-2020 implementation of its national contributions.  For example, it was providing the world with clean energy through liquefied natural gas and clean air by conserving its forests.  He said Papua New Guinea had completed aligning the Paris Agreement with its national laws and policies, and now that an institutional structure was in place, the main goal was to ensure transition into a low-carbon economy.

FATMA GÜLDEMET SARI, Minister for Environment and Urban Planning of Turkey, said her Government had contributed constructively to the Paris accord’s negotiation and had worked hard to send a strong message on the need for global action to tackle climate change.  Developed countries should fulfil their responsibilities to create a low-carbon future.  Turkey had the Paris Agreement and would present its intended nationally determined contribution.  Turkey aimed at reducing greenhouse gases by 21 per cent by 2020 and had engaged in close cooperation with France to find a viable solution.  It would continue to work with partners to create synergies to combat climate change and desertification.  Turkey was a candidate to host the twenty-sixth Conference of Parties to the Climate Change Convention in 2020.  As a rapidly developing country, Turkey had committed to fulfil its responsibility in the global endeavour to save the planet for future generations, she said.

TUVAKO NATHANIEL MANONGI (United Republic of Tanzania) said a national climate resilience pathway had intended to address related disasters and significantly reduce the impacts of climate change on the ecosystem, given its 48.1 million hectares of woodland and forests, with more than half under legal protection.  Climate change affected everyone, but not equally, he said, emphasizing that those least able to cope were most affected due to their limited financial, technological and institutional capacities.  Additionally, those least responsible for climate change problems were forced to bear its most severe consequences.  For its part, the Government had taken various steps to access, acquire and deploy appropriate technologies for adaptation and mitigation efforts to build up its climate resilience.

VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said major environmental-related obstacles on the path towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals still needed to be tackled.  The Russian Federation’s military invasion of eastern Ukraine had negatively affected the region’s natural resources and biodiversity, and had increased land and water pollution.  Despite those challenges, Ukraine stood firmly committed to its international obligations, including by joining other members of the international community in signing the Paris Agreement.  The Agreement would be an effective mechanism against the rise in global temperatures and in preventing related catastrophic consequences.  Implementing the new agreement should include specific requirements and procedures for accountability that must be applicable to all parties at national and international levels.

Closing Remarks

MARIA PUERTAS, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru, spoke on behalf of the presidency of the twentieth Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  She noted that her country had played a leadership role in organizing that event in 2014.  Peru had worked to become a climate-responsible country, having reduced its greenhouse-gas emissions from 40 per cent to 30 per cent.  Addressing climate change was a long-term activity requiring strong technical and political support, she said.  After having signed the Paris Agreement, the world would embark on a new stage, its implementation, which would depend on financing and strengthened cooperation, bearing in mind the principle of shared but differentiated responsibilities.  There must be a particular focus on financing, capacity-building and technology transfer, she said.

SÉGOLÈNE ROYALE, Minister for the Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs of France, and President of the twenty-first Conference of Parties, described the creativity, fighting spirit and perseverance needed on the road ahead.  “We have a treasure in our hands,” she said of the Paris Agreement, which she stressed must be ratified.  Ideally, 55 countries would have ratified the instrument in a matter of months, representing 55 per cent of greenhouse-gas emissions, so that a truly applicable agreement could be passed at the twenty-second Conference.

The second task was to continue negotiating, she said, noting that work would begin on a text for applying the agreement on 16 May in Bonn, Germany.  Progress had been made this week, with the Declaration on Carbon signed by Heads of State, she reported.  Meetings on oceans and on the Sustainable Development Goals had been held in the General Assembly.  The African Union had also met to discuss the important role of women, and work would continue at the Climate Action Summit in Washington, D.C., and the upcoming G7 and G20 Summits, particularly in the area of funding.  “We are aware of what you expect from us,” she said, adding that the spirit of Paris had blown into New York, where leaders could say they had risen above disagreements to work towards a common future.

SALAHEDDINE MEZOUAR, Foreign Minister of Morocco, and President-designate of the twenty-second Conference of Parties, said leaders had lived through a truly historic day and laid the foundations for the future.  “Sometimes battles change fates,” he said.  Morocco was committed to taking the necessary steps to ratify the Paris Agreement as soon as possible, starting next week, he said, adding that everyone was aware of the threat posed by climate change.  The climate and development agenda were closely linked because they upheld the universal, shared values of humanity.

The international community must now act to mobilize funds and give priority to adaptation, he emphasized.  Morocco would encourage South-South, regional and international cooperation, as well as innovative partnerships for change.  While the twenty-first Conference had been focused on agreement, the twenty-second Conference would be a time of action, which was exactly what millions of people expected.  Particular emphasis must be placed on adaptation, especially in Africa, where climate change was moving faster than anywhere else, he emphasized.  The world must now speed up ratification of the Agreement so that it could enter into force in 2020.  “We must live up to what we said we would do,” he stressed.

BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General, said that if all the countries that had signed up today joined the Agreement, the world would meet the legal requirement for its entry into force.  Urging world leaders to raise their level of ambition and to provide direct political oversight and guidance, he said he would look to civil society and young people to hold Governments accountable for the promises made today.  “A covenant with the future is a covenant with you.  Hold them to it,” he said.  History was had been made today and now it was time to move swiftly, with courage and determination to usher in a new era.


For information media. Not an official record.