Lima, Peru

09 December 2014

Secretary-General's press conference at UN Climate Change Conference [scroll down for Q&A]

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,
Señoras y señores, buenos tardes, mucho gusto.

First of all, it is a great pleasure to meet you on this occasion. Thank you for your time, and I’d like to apologize sincerely for postponing my press conference because [this morning’s] conference was going on and I couldn’t leave! Thank you very much again.

Ladies and gentlemen,

There will be many speeches, meetings, this week here, but my consistent and same message throughout this Conference will be clear and consistent: Science has not only spoken – it is shouting from the rooftops.

Our planet has a fever – and it is getting hotter every day. 

We can no longer afford to burn our way to prosperity.  We must take climate action now. 

And the more we delay, the more we will have to pay. 

This is our only world.  We have a moral and political responsibility, now, here in Lima – a historical responsibility from Lima to Paris. Future generations should be able to leave our planet sustainable – environmentally, socially, and economically.

We simply must find cleaner, greener ways of powering progress.

We come together here in Lima with a measure of optimism. 

There is a new climate for change.

In September at the Climate Summit, more than 100 heads of State and government gathered. There were two purposes of convening this climate summit meeting in New York.

First, to raise the political awareness on climate change among world leaders and business community and civil society leaders. And secondly, galvanizing action on the ground.

I believe that more or less we have achieved those two goals. And all the leaders from business and government and civil society, they reaffirmed that they should work together to put this planet earth and our future onto a sustainable path where the global temperature rise would be contained to below two degrees. The summit brought together all these leaders and this is now time to implement what they have said. This is the main purpose of Lima.

And at that time, mayors from around the world launched an agreement that will lead to significant emission reductions and more liveable cities.

And leaders from governments, the investment community and financial institutions committed to mobilize over $200 billion for low-carbon and climate-resilient solutions.

In October, as you are well aware, the European Union countries committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent from its 1990 levels by 2030.

In November, China and the United States, the world’s two largest economies and two largest emitters, responsible for 45 per cent of global emissions, announced a ground-breaking agreement in which both countries set emissions reduction goals.

We have now also nearly almost, very closely, we have been able to mobilize $10 billion to operationalize the Green Climate Fund, known as the GCF. This fund will help developing countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change and enhance their mitigation efforts.

The world is waking up to the climate challenge. 

The negotiations here must be about acting together to transform this progress into the basis for a meaningful, universal climate agreement.  

Important decisions must be taken in Lima. 

As said this morning, I have five requests of all Parties:

First, we need to leave here with a draft text for the 2015 Agreement that provides a clear and solid foundation for negotiations next year. We must also reach a common understanding on the scope and status of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs.  I encourage all Parties, in particular all major economies, to submit their INDCs by the first quarter of 2015.

Second, we need tangible progress on climate finance – specifically, achieving $10 billion for the Green Climate Fund while building a pathway to meeting the goal of $100 billion per year by 2020, and realizing the $200 billion committed by the private finance sector. As I said, we have almost achieved this initial operationalization of the GCF.

Third, prioritizing adaptation support and resilience building for the most vulnerable, especially the least developed countries and small island developing nations. 

Fourth, pressing all actors – including the private sector, civil society, cities and others – to scale up and catalyse more action within ambitious timelines.

Fifth, countries that have not yet done should swiftly ratify the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Much has changed in the climate debate over the [last] eight years.  When I took office, I saw time running out and the world falling short.  Today, the momentum for transformation is building. 

Governments, businesses and people at large are recognizing the grave threat we face and are doing something about it.  The action must continue in Lima. 

We need a meaningful, global agreement, and we need action now.

I thank you for your support, and I’ll be ready to answer your questions.

Q: Secretary-General, would you like to see a zero-emissions goal in the Paris agreement? You know that the IPCC said that emissions need to drop to zero, so it would be a second goal, after the two-degree goal. Thank you.

SG: We have to be advised by the science reports. The IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] has already announced during their earlier assessment reports – fourth report and fifth report – that we have to have at least 20 to 40 per cent greenhouse gas emissions [reductions] compared with 1990 [by] 2030.

I’m glad that many countries have already announced their bold emission targets and I sincerely hope that the leaders of the world will come out with their INDC reports by the first quarter of next year.

I sincerely hope that in Paris, we will have a very robust and universally applicable climate change agreement. Thank you.

Q: My question is which are the hardest topics do you think are here in Lima?

SG: From Lima, I’m asking our distinguished negotiators and leaders to have three points agreed.

First, we have to have clarity on this scope on INDCs. I said that Intended Nationally Determined Contributions [need to be submitted] by the first quarter of next year.

Then secondly, there should be some clear roadmap of our work to begin negotiations. We are going to have an ADP [Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action] meeting in February in Geneva. I sincerely hope that we will be able to begin negotiations there.

Thirdly, I think this is very important, there should be some formalization of this non-paper, which had been distributed by the Chairman, to be recognized and formalized as a draft text for the 2015 agreement.

Those are the three priorities I’m asking Member States to achieve in Lima. Then we will be on a better path for solid agreement and negotiations to be have begun.

At the same time, we should talk about climate financing. As I said, we have almost achieved this initial operationalization of the GCF, Green Climate Fund, and by next year, we need to have a clear roadmap and option to mobilize $100 billion dollars per year by 2020, annually. Thank you very much.

Q: I’d like to ask you, what kind of elements or instruments should this agreement have in order to encourage emissions [reduction] in the private sector?

SG: I’m just coming from my meeting with world business leaders for sustainable development and “Caring for Climate.” I have been asking them to lead by example and they are the ones who really mobilize a lot of money.

When we are talking about $100 billion per year by 2020, it may be practically difficult to expect that all this money will come from official government sources. It’s not possible. Then, we have to build a stronger partnership with the business community, civil society and philanthropic organizations. That is what I have been telling them.

It is important for them to have wise investments in a climate-resilient economy and climate-friendly economy. That is what they are doing now.

As I send in my earlier remarks during the September Climate Summit meeting, they pledged to mobilize $200 billion and I urge them to translate these pledges into action, implementation.

These are just some initial [actions]. I see huge potential of business community taking part in this process of [addressing] climate change, and more broadly speaking in our common efforts to make this world sustainable – economically, socially, environmentally. There is a huge potential, a great role for businesses to play. Thank you.

Q: What evidence do you see here in Lima that the momentum has been carried forward from the New York summit and applied in the actual negotiations on the Paris text? Thank you.

SG: This is my eighth COP [Conference of Parties] meeting as Secretary-General. And, of course, this is the 20th COP, and Member States have been discussing during the last 20 years, without making many practical decisions and progress.

I see some signs of optimism and positive willingness to engage each and among others, between the developing and developed world. They have already begun to discuss the draft text, this non-paper has already been circulated, which I hope will be formalized into a draft negotiating text. This is a very important one.

You have seen, as I have already explained, a very positive demonstration of political will, led by President [Barack] Obama of the United States and President Xi Jinping of China to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. These are the two largest economies, two largest emitters, who account for 45 per cent [of emissions] .

And the European Union joined already before that. Then, combining these three countries and groups of countries, including the European Union, in different perspectives, I think they are taking care of 60 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. This is a hugely positive one, and there is goodwill expressed by Member States. I’m cautiously optimistic that Member States will have a good result in Lima. That requires some political will.

I’m meeting all the chief negotiators and world leaders to use this positive momentum for their better result.

Q: Over the past year, many churches, investment funds and schools have joined a movement to divest from fossil fuel companies, and I’m wondering if you support this movement.

SG: It is encouraging these days that there is a greater awareness and willingness that they are now investing their resources into more sustainable energy. Of course, practically speaking, in our real world, these fossil fuels may have to continue to be used as our energy sources.

As you know, in 2011, I launched a very important initiative: Sustainable Energy for All.

This has three objectives, goals. The first, we should provide universal energy access to all the people in this world – 7 billion people by 2030. And then by 2030, we have to double the use of renewable energy sources in the global energy mix. Then, double the efficiency of energy. Those are three goals.

Now, in line with this Sustainable Energy for All, many fossil fuel-based industries and countries are not being slowly and gradually moving toward renewable energy sources like solar and wind power and geothermal power. This is a good trend and this has received strong support from Member States of the United Nations in their process to achieve and shape the future development agenda, the post-2015 development agenda. And I’m sure that we will move toward that direction.

I thank you very much for your support. Thank you.