Direction of Travel Is towards Delivery on Paris Agreement, Deputy Secretary-General Tells New Climate Economy Summit

DSG/SM/1162-ENV/DEV/1844
19 April 2018

Direction of Travel Is towards Delivery on Paris Agreement, Deputy Secretary-General Tells New Climate Economy Summit

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the New Climate Economy Summit, in Washington, D.C., today:

Thank you, Kristalina [Georgieva], for hosting this Summit of the Commission on New Climate Economy.  And thank you to the three Co-Chairs for inviting me to speak.

The Commission plays a key role in highlighting trends and issues shaping long‑term economic growth pathways, and the potential for accelerating transformative action.

Global consensus on the 2030 Agenda [for Climate Change] and the Paris Agreement [on climate change] is already translating into political and economic consensus at the national level.  Evidence is growing that countries and sectors are increasingly ready to embark on a new growth model that reduces the risks of climate change and that will improve sustainability and achieve high quality growth while alleviating poverty.

The recent International Maritime Organization (IMO) agreement to cut 50 per cent of emissions from shipping by 2050 is a much-needed and long-awaited step.  Now we need similar action from the aviation sector, cement, chemical and iron and steel industries.

Key sectors such as energy and transport are undergoing massive transformation, with dramatic cost reductions in renewables such as wind and solar, and a shift towards electric vehicles — nearly 2 million are now on the road.  Yet, we are not close to meeting the climate ambitions we laid out in the Paris Agreement.  Every day the perils become more apparent.

The Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean has weakened alarmingly.  Climate-related disasters hit a new record last year:  $320 billion.  Hurricanes and heat waves are a new normal.  Meanwhile, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose last year by 1.4 per cent, to 32.5 gigatones:  a historic high.  The emission gap remains unbearably broad, even if we implement the Paris pledges.

Our future, our very existence, continues to be under threat, exacerbated by megatrends ‑ population growth heading to 8.5 billion by 2030, food insecurity, rapid urbanization, water scarcity ‑ the list goes on.

Climate change tops the list as a direct threat and a multiplier of many other threats ‑ from poverty to displacement to conflict.  The impacts are visible across the globe ‑ and they are accelerating.  Yet we are still struggling to find consensus on what is politically feasible, economically realistic and socially possible.  This is a recipe for complete failure.

The Secretary-General is determined to work towards and use his convening power to force a structural shift in our thinking, behaviour and actions.  For him, the Paris Agreement is not about 2030 or 2050.  It is about here and now.

To this end, he has decided to convene a climate summit at the United Nations General Assembly in 2019 with the aim of raising ambition and scaling up climate action so we can resolve the most complex issues necessary for a less than 2°C pathway.  It will be about catalysing tangible progress, not a patchwork of incremental commitments.  Thus ensuring we achieve the momentum required to achieve results by 2020.

Specifically, we would like the summit to:

1. Make the case for more ambitious national climate targets or nationally determined contributions;
2. Demonstrate that we are moving with greater speed and scale towards decarbonization of the global economy;
3. Usher in more efficient use of resources across industries and sectors, including energy, transport, water, food and land use;
4. It should exhibit alignment at the national level between the Sustainable Development Goals and climate action plans;
5. It should highlight scientific consensus on emissions-reduction pathways and the arc of ambition needed to peak emissions by 2020 and reach the overall goal of net-zero emissions by mid-century;
6. The business trajectories of the oil and gas companies should become consistent with the less than 2°C scenario;
7. There should be a meaningful price on carbon in the G-20 economies; and
8. A greater focus on resilience and adaptation in the most vulnerable countries.

These objectives will be achieved through an intense focus on the energy transition and access, the greening of investment in infrastructure, transport and heavy industry, carbon pricing and resilience building.  They will also require enhanced support to countries to implement their national pledges integrating the Sustainable Development Goals.

I am confident that this Commission’s 2017 report will provide clear building blocks to move the needle of concrete progress towards the 2019 summit.

Let me turn to the vexed question of finance.

Trillions of dollars are required to support the aims of the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals during the next 13 years.  The increasing cost of climate-related disasters stands in sharp contrast to our inability to achieve even the necessary consensus on mobilizing the promised $100 billion a year by 2020 and the needed demonstration of the international commitments to climate action.

The Secretary-General will take the necessary steps to turn promises made to developing countries into a reality on the ground.

There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the direction of travel is towards delivery on the Paris Agreement.  But the real transition will only occur when people are prepared to make tough economic and political decisions that favour the long term over the short.

We have a window of opportunity now.  For that, we count on your leadership.

For information media. Not an official record.