Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to Māori and Pasifika youth at an event hosted by James Shaw, New Zealand’s Minister for Climate Change, in Auckland today:
It is an enormous pleasure to be here with some of the members of Generation Zero representing the very important leadership that youth around the world is providing to make sure that we are able to reach our central objective: not to have more than 1.5°C of increasing temperature at the end of the century. The international community, and especially the scientific community, has been very clear that, to reach this goal we absolutely need to have carbon neutrality by 2050. I’m extremely grateful to the leadership of New Zealand in this regard and extremely grateful to the leadership of the youth in New Zealand in this regard.
I’m confident that youth around the world will be able to convey to their Governments a very clear message, which is the message that I would like to convey here from the Pacific. First, shift taxes from salaries to carbon. We must tax pollution, not people. Second, stop subsidies to fossil fuels. Taxpayers’ money should not be used to boost hurricanes, to spread drought and heatwaves, to bleach corals or to melt glaciers. Finally, stop the construction of new coal plants by 2020. We want a green economy not a grey economy in the world.
It is very important that around the world young people, civil society and those that in the business community have understood that the green economy is the economy of the future and the grey economy has no future; it’s very important that you convince Governments that they must act because there’s still a lot of resistance. I went to Katowice not one, but three times, and I felt that resistance. Governments are still afraid to move forward. They feel the costs of climate action forgetting that the costs of inaction are much bigger than any costs of climate action.
It’s very good to see — as we know that nature does not negotiate — it’s very good to see youth in the front line and I’m delighted to be with you here today, and to learn from you, what you want us to do. Thank you very much for your presence and it’s very important that your own Government recognizes you’re a very important influence in what has been the exemplary New Zealand leadership in this regard.