Copenhagen, Denmark

23 October 2013

Secretary-General's remarks at joint press conference with H.E. Mr. Martin Lidegaard, Minister of Climate, Energy and Building

Good morning, God dag,

It is a great pleasure to see you early in the morning. We start very early in the morning.  

My visit to Denmark has been extremely valuable on many issues, but most of all, on advancing action on climate change and sustainable development. 

I have had very good, intensive discussions with Prime Minister [Helle] Thorning-Schmidt, Minister [Martin] Lidegaard, Minister [Christian] Friis-Bach, and other business community leaders. Yesterday we had a very good meeting with Minister Lidegaard. Thank you for your leadership and commitment on climate change and sustainable environment.  Yesterday, I met with finance and pension fund leaders and participated in the Global Green Growth Forum, 3GF.

Later today, I will speak on climate financing and I will help launch our global Energy Efficiency Hub here in Copenhagen.

This hub is central to my Sustainable Energy for All Initiative that aims to vastly improve access to modern energy. When we launched this Sustainable Energy for All initiative, we laid out 3 ambitions. The first target is that, as I have just said, by 2030, we will provide universal access to energy to all the people around the world. As you may remember, there are still 1.4 billion people who do not have access to electricity. So we will eliminate all this energy poverty. Second, we will try to double the energy efficiency rate. And thirdly, we will double the use of renewable energy in the global energy mix. These are very ambitious targets, but I think this is doable. This is strongly supported by the international community.

It will work in both developed and developing countries to mobilize financial resources, disseminate best practices and expand networks among private and public stakeholders.

All these events are critical for building support for action on climate change and sustainable development. 

We have three deadlines in 2015. The first deadline is the Millennium Development Goals. We must meet the targets of the Millennium Development Goals by the end of 2015.

Secondly, we expect that member states will define and establish a post-2015 development agenda with poverty eradiation at the centre and with sustainable development as its guide. The third target. As you know well, the main purpose of my visit to Denmark is to raise the level of ambition for climate change. We have to have a global legal climate change agreement by 2015. So these are three important deadlines for international community to meet by 2015.

The agenda’s goal will be to eradicate extreme poverty.

Sustainable development will be its guide and principle.

How we produce, use, save and share energy will be critical to success on sustainable development and addressing climate change.

Next year, I will host a Climate Change Summit meeting in September on the margins of the General Assembly next year. I am inviting all government leaders, business leaders and civil society leaders, so it is not only a governmental meeting; this is open to the whole international community.

I will ask leaders of governments particularly to bring solutions and initiatives with goals, deliverables and investment plans. And I am also asking business leaders to come with the same ambitious level [of] investment plans.

I expect many of these solutions to emerge from the Global Green Growth Forum, and from the business and finance leaders who have gathered here this week.

I have challenged the finance and investment community to help make the transformation to a low carbon economy.

This is in the long-term interest for all.

Every day’s delay increases the risk to people and the planet.

We will count the cost in human lives and increased economic volatility.

But there is an alternative.

Climate action.

Investment in sustainable development can be a win-win for rich and poor people alike.

That is why, over the course of the coming year we should all do our utmost work to unlock the barriers to climate finance that exist across the global economy.

This week’s events in Copenhagen are part of that effort, and I thank the Government and people of Denmark for their strong leadership in this area.

I thank Minister Lidegaard for his leadership, and Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt [for] strong commitment and leadership in this regard.

Thank you. Tak.


Q: I have a question on climate change and negotiations. Secretary-General, could you comment on the roles that developing countries like the BRICs, including China play in climate change negotiations?

SG: Climate Change affects all countries, regardless of where you are coming from developing and developed, but you should also understand that it is mostly developing world that Climate Change has impacted more seriously, because they do not have much capacity to adapt and mitigate this Climate Change phenomenon. We expect that both developing and developed world will work very closely together on the basis of the common but differentiated responsibility. We expect that there will be more investment, more support from the developed world to developing world. My message when I met business community leaders was that while business leaders are investing [in] climate resilient and green economy, we have seen more from north to north, but we really hope to see more investment from north to south. We also appreciate increasing support among south-south and this is very encouraging.

As minister has just said, and as everybody agrees, we need to mobilise a huge amount of capital. We do not expect that governments and public funds will be sufficient. Many countries are still undergoing economic difficulties. Therefore how to strengthen and expand our partnership network will be the key to our success in addressing climate change. That is why I have been meeting business community leaders here and there. My meetings with pension fund leaders and insurance company leaders were very positive. They were very positively inclined to fully commit themselves and engage themselves in working together with the international community, and the United Nations in particular, in this process.

Q: The UN has asked Norway to take some of the chemical weapons and destroy them. Could you explain to us some more details about how that is going to happen? And if the timeframe set by the United States and Russia can be met?

SG: There are three phases, which we have set to destroy chemical weapons in Syria. The first phase is to disenable all the chemical weapons facilities and factories, which have been going on. By the end of October we will try to visit all 23 claimed sites. We have visited as of today 19 out of 23 sites, and it seems to be moving quite smoothly, as Sigrid Kaag, the special coordinator announced yesterday. The second phase has already been established. We have established a joint mission between OPCW [Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] and the United Nations with the appointment of a special coordinator. The third phase will begin from 1 November until the end of June next year – that is the destruction of chemical weapons. This will be the most challenging phase as you may understand. We may need support from the Member States. Norway is one of those countries. I was told by Prime Minister [Helle] Thorning-Schmidt yesterday that the Danish Government would also be ready to provide their full support, whatever it may be, and I really appreciate such kind of very positive support from Member States. I am not in the position to disclose which countries. Being offered this one, our joint mission led by Sigrid Kaag will be in close consultations with Member States under the direction [and] guidance from myself and the Director-General of the OPCW.

Q: Do you think chemical weapons transported out of Syria to Norway, for instance?

SG: That is another important issue. According to the Chemical Weapons Convention, there needs to be some special measures to allow the chemical weapons from a state party through the Chemical Weapons Convention to ship out of a country. That will have to be discussed.

Q: Now you get the financial community on board. How do you fulfill a miracle that the big money people – pension funds owners [inaudible]. How do you manage to have them commit [inaudible]? I am glad that Denmark is taking the lead. How helpful do you find the leadership of Denmark?

SG: Mobilising $100 billion a year [for climate finance] by 2020 and every year from thereafter will be a huge challenge. [It is a] huge amount, but I do not think it is sort of a miracle or something impossible. It is possible if we have a political will. When and if there is a will, there is a way. The Member States have pledged to provide $100 billion annually here in Copenhagen in 2009. That is a commitment. This commitment should be implemented. The Member States have already established the Green Climate Fund, who will administer [inaudible] climate financing. Without financing we will not be able to implement all our good vision and agreement, so this is crucially important. That is why I am asking first public funds, second, private financing. At this time, the United Nations cannot do it alone. No country can do it alone. We have to combine our resources and our wisdom, particularly together with the business community, and even with civil society, who can really participate with a very visionary and wise investment for climate resilient infrastructure and projects. That is what I am going to speak [about] to ministers and delegations right after this conference at the Climate Finance Meeting.

Q: According to many scientists it is likely that the 2 degree target will not come into place. How open should one be?

SG: All of us have read this IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] Fifth Assessment report, the Working Group I report, which said that climate change is happening, it is real, and there is much greater certainty. There are no such skeptics or doubts about the current Climate Change phenomenon. There are two critical issues at this time that we have to do: First, we have to eliminate this abject poverty. Second, we have to keep the global temperature rise within two degrees Celsius. Those are two critical elements of which we will make our economy green and sustainable, and which will put us on a sustainable path. These are very important. Then how to maintain and even lower this temperature rise within 2 degrees? Some countries, like the small islands developing world, they insisted we needed to even lower our ambition to 1.5 degrees, but there was not consensus. I still remember that in 2009 during the COP 15 meeting in Copenhagen, there was a very heated, serious debate on this matter.

In any case, IPCC is now recommending that we must keep this 2 degrees Celsius. That is fundamentally important. We must raise the level of ambition. We must raise the level of ambition. We must mobilise all resources available to give our concerted efforts possible. Otherwise we will not be able to make it happen. So that is what I am going to urge world leaders to really commit to. Climate Change is happening all around the world. You must have seen these days, particularly recently, the extreme weather patterns. Scientists say this is caused by global warming. Unless we just confine and address this seriously and imminently, we will have to regret seriously for our future generations, and for our planet earth. We are standing on a tipping point. Depending upon on how we do, how we proceed, then we will be able to succeed. That is why I am going to urge world leaders and business leaders to work together. Thank you.