Following are UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ remarks to a round table with Heads of State and Government at the twenty‑fifth Conference of the Parties (COP25) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in Madrid today:
You are all presidents, prime ministers, ministers, political leaders. I am no longer a politician, but there was a time in which I was Prime Minister of my country and I remember that at the time — 20 years ago — we approved legislation that forced the grid, the electrical grid, to buy all renewable energy produced at a, at the time, subsidized price. That was probably one of the reasons why Portugal today has a very high percentage of renewable energy in its energy needs.
Now, it was clear to me at that time that politicians were leading the transformation in relation to climate action. And what I’m afraid today is that I see and I got the opportunity to see at the Climate Summit, I see public opinions evolving very quickly. I see cities, regions, assuming leadership. I see the business community and the finance community very active.
We received, during the G20 [Group of 20] meeting in Osaka a letter by the leaders of asset management entities representing $34 trillion asking political leaders to enhance climate action, to end subsidies to fossil fuels, to put a price on carbon.
We have recently met with the Global Investors for Sustainable Development Alliance and the Net‑Zero Asset Owner Alliance and I saw more and more in the business community and in local authorities a very strong commitment to move forward and then complain, many times they complain, that Governments are lagging behind, that regulations are not good enough, that fiscal systems are not favorable enough, that subsidies to fossil fuels are going on and that there are obstacles when they want to move and move more quickly in climate action.
And so, my strong appeal to political leaders here today is please do lead, do not follow. Because societies are moving, business communities are moving, local authorities are moving, the youth is moving. It is for political leaders to be able to take profit of this movement and to lead for us to be able to defeat climate change.
Thank you very much.