Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks at the first General Assembly of the International Solar Alliance, in New Delhi today:
I am pleased to be with you.
We all know climate change is a direct threat to all our aspirations for inclusive sustainable development, but it became an existential threat to all of us. Put simply, we cannot meet our goals for peace and prosperity on a healthy planet without reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are warming our planet beyond tolerable levels.
We know what we need to do and, by and large, we have the tools to do it. What we still lack, fortunately not here in this room, is the political commitment to make the transformative decisions that will lead us onto a safer path. We saw signs of hope in Paris in 2015. But, the latest data shows that current commitments under the Paris Agreement fall far short of meeting the target of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees and striving for 1.5 degrees.
The truth is that climate change is still running faster than we are. What is urgently needed is more ambition and more action. So, I welcome this important initiative spearheaded by India and France. This International Solar Alliance represents exactly what needs to be done and represents the future.
I applaud your goal of mobilizing $1 trillion towards the deployment of 1,000 gigawatts of solar energy by 2030. And I commend the Government of India for setting a moving target of more ambition of achieving 100 gigawatts of solar power capacity by 2022.
It is clear that we are witnessing a global renewable energy revolution. Renewable energy accounted for some 70 per cent of net additions to global power capacity in 2017. Solar energy is at the centre this revolution. Today, both the technology and the economy are on our side. Solar energy is competitive with and often cheaper than fossil fuels, even despite the harmful subsidies that polluting energy still receives around the globe.
The stone age did not end for lack of stones. There were plenty of rocks left at that time. The stone age ended when better technologies were found to solve our problems and I hope the fossil fuel age will not end when fossil fuels end and that we will find ways to replace them with more adequate forms that we are seeing in this meeting.
[Solar energy] represents a powerful means of meeting our target of universal access to modern energy. And it is an indispensable tool for lowering emissions and combating climate change. Let us be in no doubt: climate change is the defining issue of our time ‑ and we are at a defining moment. If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the opportunity to avoid runaway climate change.
That is why, next September, I will convene a climate summit to bring climate action to the top of the international agenda. The summit will provide an opportunity for leaders and stakeholders, both public and private, to demonstrate real climate action and showcase their ambition. I invite you all to bring your experiences, your ambition, your vision and your commitment to New York next September. You can help accelerate a global energy transformation.
We need to strengthen enabling environments and finance to speed the clean energy transition in developed and developing countries alike. And we must accelerate innovation for off-grid solutions so we can serve the least advantaged and fulfil the promise of the 2030 Agenda to leave no one behind. We will accomplish this through leadership ‑ your leadership. Together, we can rise to the climate challenge.
I wish you a productive first meeting of the General Assembly of the International Solar Alliance.