Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks as delivered at the closing of the high-level segment of the Talanoa Dialogue at the twenty-fourth Conference of Parties (COP24), in Katowice today:
In my opening statement to this Conference one week ago, I told you that this was the most important COP since the adoption of the Paris Agreement. I warned that climate change is running faster than we are and that Katowice must – in no uncertain terms – be a success, as a necessary platform to reverse this trend. To achieve it, I said that ambition and compromises were both needed. Never have the stakes been higher.
I left Katowice hopeful, but uncertain. While I was away, three more reports were added to the long list of warnings signals: a Special WHO [World Health Organization] report on impacts to health due to climate change; a [United Nations] Environment Programme report which highlights the opportunities for reducing emissions in the construction sector; and NASA’s research on the first signs of significant melting of glaciers in East Antarctica.
Returning to Katowice, I see that despite progress in the negotiating texts much remains to be done. And today, the Presidency is presenting a text as a new basis for negotiations. I’d like to thank the Polish Presidency for its efforts. I understand it takes an enormous amount of energy and work to organize such a conference. I also understand the weight of responsibility that this COP carries. There can be no doubt that it is a moment of truth.
In this regard, key political issues remain unresolved. This is not surprising; we recognize the complexity of this work. But we are running out of time. Today, it is only fitting that we meet under the auspices of the Talanoa Dialogue. I’d like to thank Fiji for initiating this Dialogue. It’s no coincidence they’re the ones who established the process to discuss the ambition to meet a 1.5 degrees Celsius goal.
Small island States know better than any of us the importance of meeting that goal. As I said in my opening remarks, for people living on those islands, climate change isn’t a theoretical exercise about the future - it’s a matter of life and death today. Talanoa’s spirit is exactly how we can achieve a successful result in these last crucial days of COP24. It is defined by openness, driven by optimism and focused not on political differences, but on the collective well-being of those living on this planet. And let me be open and transparent. The IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] Special Report is a stark acknowledgment of what the consequences of global warming beyond 1.5 degrees [Celsius] will mean for billions of people around the world, especially those who call small island States home. This is not good news, but we cannot afford to ignore it.
Over the last 10 days, many of you have worked long, hard hours and I want to acknowledge your efforts. But we need to accelerate those efforts to reach consensus if we want to follow up on the commitments made in Paris. The Katowice package needs to deliver the Paris Agreement Work Programme, progress on finance and a strong basis for the revision of National Determined Contributions under the Talanoa Dialogue.
These three components are linked by one central idea – boosting ambition. Ambition when it comes to predictable and accessible financial flows for the economic transition towards a low-emission and climate-resilient world. Ambition with respect to climate action. And ambition with respect to developing a flexible but robust set of rules for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
Let us start by finance. The financial obligation from developed countries to support efforts of developing countries was established in the Convention when it was adopted in 1992—more than 25 years ago. It’s very difficult to explain to those suffering from the effects of climate change that we have not managed to find predictable support for the actions that must be taken.
But there is some good news. The World Bank announced a new set of climate targets for 2021-2025, doubling its current five-year investments to $200 billion, both in mitigation and adaptation, in support for countries to take ambitious climate action. Here at COP24, multilateral development banks announced the alignment of their activities with the goals of the Paris Agreement and in line with the science-based evidence identified by the IPCC. It represents $35 billion in developing and emerging economies with an additional leverage on $52 billion from private and public sources.
And before the COP, we saw a new Investor Agenda, as well as, for example, an announcement by ING that it would set science-based targets to shift its lending portfolio towards a low-emission future. These private sector actors are making important progress because they recognize the seriousness of the climate challenge we face and the opportunities related to addressing it. Failing here in Katowice would send a disastrous message to those who stand ready to shift to a green economy. So, I urge you to find common ground that will allow us to show the world that we are listening, that we care.
Developed countries must scale up their contributions to jointly mobilize $100 billion annually by 2020. And we need to strengthen the Green Climate Fund. Germany’s pledge to double its contribution in the current replenishment process is a very positive sign that I hope will inspire others to do the same. I have appointed the President of France and Prime Minister of Jamaica to lead the mobilization of the international community, both public and private, to reach the target of $100 billion in the context of the preparation of the Climate Summit I have convened in September of next year.
Second, the rulebook. I just arrived from Marrakech. It reminded me that the deadline to finalize the Paris Agreement Work Programme was not one that was imposed upon parties by anyone ‑ it was a deadline parties imposed upon themselves at COP22, precisely in Marrakech. Both the Convention and the Paris Agreement recognize that countries have different realities, different capacities and different circumstances. We must find a formula that balances the responsibilities of all countries. This will allow us to have a regime that is fair and effective for all.
To achieve this, and to build the trust that everyone is doing their fair share, we need to have a strong transparency framework to monitor and assess progress on all fronts – mitigation, adaptation and provision of support, including finance, technology and capacity building. I am aware that this issue is also technically complex and many linkages across different parts of the texts are being considered. But I have confidence that you will find a way to overcome those challenges.
Third, climate action. Today, Katowice is the hub of global climate action. The eyes of the world are on us. And more than 32,000 people have come here to find solutions to climate change. They are inspired, engaged and they want us to deliver. They want us to finish the job. Katowice must be, Mr. President, the dawn of a new determination to unleash the promise of the Paris Agreement. We clearly have the know-how and the ability to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius.
We see incredible momentum from all segments of society to lower emissions and make the transition from the grey economy to the green. We have the ways. What we need is the political will to move forward. As the IPCC Special Report indicates, the intersection between State and non-State is essential to reaching our climate goals. This Talanoa Dialogue is an example of how this can all come together.
The IPCC report outlined a catastrophic future if we do not act immediately. It also clearly states that the window of opportunity is closing. We no longer have the luxury of time. That’s why we need to have our work here in Katowice finalized – and finalized in less than three days. Meeting your deadline means we can immediately unleash the full potential of the Paris Agreement and its promise of a low-emissions climate-resilient future.
I understand that none of this is easy. I understand some of you will need to make some tough political decisions. But this is the time for consensus. This is the time for political compromises to be reached. This means sacrifices, but it will benefit us all collectively.
I challenge you to work together for that purpose. I challenge you to accelerate and finish the job, and to raise ambition on all fronts. To waste this opportunity in Katowice would compromise our last best chance to stop runaway climate change. It would not only be immoral, it would be suicidal. This may sound like a dramatic appeal, but it is exactly this: a dramatic appeal. Let us then carry forth the spirit of the Talanoa Dialogue in these crucial next few days and let us heed its messages.
It’s about more than the future of each country. I have three young granddaughters. I will not be here at the end of the century. The same probably applies to all of you. I do not want my granddaughters or anybody else’s to suffer the consequences of our failures. They would not forgive us if uncontrolled and spiralling climate change would be our legacy to them. Thank you.