New York

21 September 2019

Deputy Secretary-General's opening remarks at Industry Coalition Weekend Programme [as prepared for delivery]

Excellencies,
 
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
The climate crisis is the defining challenge of our generation.
 
We are running out of time to tackle it. 
 
The next decade is crucial for changing the emissions curve.
 
We simply have to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and act based on the conclusions of the IPCC’s 1.5 degree report. 
 
That means cutting greenhouse emissions by 45 per cent by 2030; achieving carbon neutrality by 2050; and limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century.  
 
Our energy, industry, infrastructure, agriculture and food systems need to become low-carbon and climate-resilient.  
 
We need a deep transformation of our economies. 
 
We are seeing more and more promise in the area of energy transition, in particular the development of renewable energy.
 
But the needed transition is not coming fast enough.
 
That is why we need front-runners in the industry sector, particularly in cement, steel, chemicals and heavy-duty transport. 
 
These sectors annually emit around 10 Gigatons of CO2 -- some 30 per cent of global emissions.
 
They are harder-to-abate sectors that need significant help to transition because the solutions are tougher than for most sectors. 
 
We need honest conversations to tackle this issue head on. That’s why we are here this week.
 
We know there are solutions. 
 
The cement and steel industries remain highly inefficient. They can be developed in a low-emission manner and steel can be produced without the utilization of coking coal.
 
It is our responsibility to make sure these solutions move beyond pilots, and that the can reach the scale needed to make a difference.
 
Secondly, cement and steel can be recycled and reused. Why are we producing new high-emission materials instead of reusing them?  Why are we not pressuring the companies to step up? This is what the circular economy is about.
 
We need to do more – and urgently.
 
We need leadership and we need collaboration like never before.
 
This is a global effort that needs genuine partnerships between governments, businesses, the finance sector and civil society.
 
Industry leaders have an important role to play. Your presence today sends a signal that we are all together in our battle against climate disruption. 
 
As well as reducing emissions, we must also make sure we put people at the heart of this transition and ensure that we provide support to enable all to benefit from the transition.
 
We also need to support emerging economies to develop green industry from the start – to help them thrive by leapfrogging with newest technologies available.
 
All of you here today have a unique power: you can effect transformation. This is what the world needs now.
 
The collaboration between India, Sweden, the World Economic Forum and many others to kick this process off is leadership by example and I look forward to seeing how this develops over the coming years.
 
The challenge is enormous, but so are our capabilities when we act together. 
 
The UN system stands ready to support all stakeholders to accelerate the transition and make sure no one is left behind. 
 
I look forward to hearing the outcome of this weekend’s discussions and to working with you as we race for 1.5 ̊ and build a carbon-neutral world. 
 
Let us be remembered for being on the right side of history.