27 November 2015

Secretary-General’s remarks at joint press conference at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting 2015

I am very pleased to be here with Mr. François Hollande, President of France, Mr. Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta, and Kamalesh Sharma, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

I am encouraged by the strong commitment of leaders of Commonwealth. Commonwealth is quite a unique international, regional organization – in its unique diversity. We have many regional organizations – the European Union, the African Union, ASEAN, OAS, etc… but they are more or less focused on regional members. This [the Commonwealth] covers almost one third of the global population, almost one third of the United Nations and it covers, most importantly, from the most vulnerable, poorest countries and tiny countries, to the most powerful and rich global countries.

Therefore, with its diversity, when CHOGM [Commonwealth] members are united, it can be reasonably said that you represent all the views of the United Nations – a microcosm of the international community. In that regard, I really appreciate it.

And it is also very important, meaningful, to look back at our common efforts during the last 20 years of climate negotiation: it started from Malta. 1988: the Prime Minister of Malta first raised the issue of climate change in the General Assembly of the United Nations. Only at that time has the international community picked up and began to talk about climate change. Now I hope this will [also] be the last place to talk about this and I hope we have a good and ambitious agreement in Paris.

It may be premature to prejudge what will happen, it depends upon the Member States, but I think that all the stars seem to be aligning in the same direction. There is a strong commitment, not only from the government but from the business communities and civil society. And people, on the ground, urge the leaders of today to make this world better and environmentally sustainable so that our succeeding generations can live in peace and harmony and prosperity, in a safer way.

The leaders, in September, have come to the United Nations and adopted the far reaching, visionary, 2030 development agenda, with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. It covers 17 goals, climate change is just one of these 17 goals - number 13 - but if we do not address climate change now, than all these remaining 16 goals cannot be fully implemented. They can be ruined.

Therefore, we must take action. We have spoken for a long time - at least 20 years, longer than 20 years – and the science has made it plainly clear. There is such a strong wish and urging from business communities and civil society that the leaders must show their leadership. They have been elected, they have been mandated by the people; then what can we do, what should we do? I think the answer is natural, we have to deliver.

It was five years ago in Durban, in 2011. Finally, for the first time, Member States agreed in writing in their Declaration: let us agree on a universal, legally binding, ambitious climate change agreement by 2015.

At that time, Paris was not decided. Member States have been reaffirming, reaffirming [their commitment] four times through their official document. I’m glad that President Hollande and the French Government have invited [leaders] and [confirmed] their leadership, despite such terrible and horrible Paris attacks.

We are not deterred, they are not deterred, we are going to make it happen and the time for taking action is now. We can not again delay or postpone it until tomorrow.

We have to take action and I am very glad that Member States are now showing their leadership in France, Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Australia, and showing their commitment for climate financing. We are now working to present a politically credible trajectory [towards] the 100 billion dollars.

This is a trust and confidence issue. I know that there are certain issues still unresolved: differentiation, legal nature, climate financing and ambition. […]

I think we have to raise our level of ambition. There is going to be a very important monitoring and reviewing cycle – 5 year cycle. President Hollande and the President of China have agreed last month and it has been supported by most of the Member States.

With this 5-year cycle monitoring and reviewing, I think we have a good mechanism to make sure that once this agreement is made in Paris, it will be implemented fully with confidence and trust. And I am asking world leaders, business leaders and civil society leaders: raise your voice, rise to the challenges so that we can make our world better for all.

Thank you very much