18 November 2020

Keep Raising Voices, Demanding Change, Secretary-General Tells Youth4Climate Event, Stressing: ‘When You March, the World Follows’

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video remarks to the Youth4Climate virtual event, held today:

I thank the Government of Italy for convening this important conversation.  And I thank the youth of our world — here and marching in the streets — for your inspiring engagement on the climate crisis.

This is the most pressing issue of our time, especially for your generation.  You are having a major impact and we are starting to see signs that the tide is turning.  Our goal is zero-net emissions by 2050.  We rely on young activists like yourselves to help us get there.

Recent announcements from several major emitting countries and global businesses are encouraging.  By early 2021, countries representing more than 65 per cent of emissions and more than 70 per cent of the world economy will have made ambitious commitments to carbon neutrality.

This sends a signal sent to markets, institutional investors and decision-makers.  Coal is on the way out.  Renewable energy is in.  Carbon should be given a price, and subsidies for fossil fuels should end.  And we must shift the tax burden from income to carbon, and from taxpayers to polluters.

These are big but necessary changes, and we need your passion, ideas and determination to ensure the job gets done.  This is why, this year, I established my Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change.  I have asked this group to consult with other young climate leaders as widely as possible, including at the virtual youth conference on climate change starting tomorrow.

We also face an unprecedented pandemic.  But the response to COVID-19 has shown us that, when people see it is necessary, we can quickly change how we live, work, consume and cooperate.  Major and rapid change is exactly what we need in the fight against climate disruption.

Change that will make our planet more liveable, sustainable and inclusive.  And no group is more effective in pushing leaders to change course than you.  I urge you all to put this power to work.  In your schools, your workplaces and your online communities, I urge you to keep raising your voices, bringing your ideas, and driving forward the ambition we need.  When you march, the world follows.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.