You Have Power to Define Pace of Commitment to Low-Carbon Future, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Climate Leaders

18 September 2017

You Have Power to Define Pace of Commitment to Low-Carbon Future, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Climate Leaders

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at Climate Week NYC 2017, in New York today:

I am pleased to be with you for the ninth Annual New York City Climate Week.  It is an honour to be with so many climate action leaders from business, states and regions, cities and national Governments.

We all know that climate change is a challenge for our generation.  The destruction wrought by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the massive floods in India, Nepal and across South Asia over the last two months, reflect the growing vulnerability of people and economies to the growing intensity and frequency of extreme weather events.

You know the challenge and you know the answer lies with you.  I commend your efforts.  As the Secretary-General said in May, the sustainability train is moving.  And you are providing the fuel — not the dirty fuel of the past, but the clean power of the future.  The engine is no longer huffing and puffing smoke.  But, it is not moving fast enough.  And not everyone is on board.  We must raise ambition.  We are ready to work with you, engage with you and support your efforts.

The Paris Agreement [on climate change] was a monumental achievement.  But, agreements are just pieces of paper if those who need to implement them don’t follow through.  You have the power to define the pace and extent of implementation.  Your commitment to a low-carbon, resilient future is making a difference.  The news from your organizations and subnational governments makes us optimistic.

The insurance industry has innovated.  The auto industry is transforming.  And we see clear progress on renewables.  Businesses are not only delivering renewable energy and new storage technologies at greater speed and lower cost, but also, they are creating demand.  Initiatives include the RE100 programme, which only last July surpassed 100 major global companies committed to using 100 per cent renewable electricity.

And, with the launch tomorrow of the EV100 programme, I am expecting a leap forward in the global auto industry’s commitment to electric vehicles.  Further, with the Under2 Coalition, a total of 177 jurisdictions across six continents are saying:  “We are not going to wait for national Governments, we cannot afford to.  We commit to the Paris Agreement goals ourselves.”

I applaud you.  Actions such as these give national Governments the confidence to commit to the Paris Agreement themselves and to raise their ambition.

We all need to take up the challenge of increasing ambition in the lead up to the Secretary General’s Climate Summit in 2019 and the critical moment of 2020, when we must see the emissions curve emphatically bend.

There are five steps that we need to take to make that happen.  First, deepening engagement.  While many businesses are taking up climate action in the developed world, a vast majority of developing countries are still facing significant challenges to engage the private sector.  We need to accelerate private sector investment and innovation in all parts of the world.  That means ensuring that renewables do not benefit only the wealthy — but allow countries to leapfrog to high-tech clean energy systems.

Second, we must manage the transition.  We have to consider and prioritize the needs of communities impacted by the ongoing transition especially in the energy sector.  We should be conscious that this transition needs to be managed for those losing jobs and livelihoods.  It is not just about creating jobs.  It is about spreading prosperity and sustainability.

Third, we need to maintain momentum.  We must promote benchmarks for delivery against the Paris Agreement across businesses and states and cities and work with the national Governments in removing barriers.

Fourth, we should prioritize disclosure.  We need a clear vision of the material and financial risks that companies and cities and regions face from climate change.  Such disclosure is critical for the financial stability of markets and will create demand for greater investment in low-carbon and climate-friendly opportunities.

Finally, we must ensure greater recognition.  We want to deepen your engagement in implementing the Paris Agreement.  Tracking of progress and transparency would be crucial to this effort.  If we can undertake the steps I outlined, I am confident the 2019 Climate Summit will be an important milestone towards the success of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.  I wish you a successful Climate Week.

For information media. Not an official record.