New York

05 March 2018

Secretary-General's remarks at press event with Michael R. Bloomberg, newly-appointed Special Envoy for Climate Action

SG: [inaudible] First because I met you.
It is not every day that we have the chance to meet and to get acquainted and to work with someone that is a true leader in today’s world.   The world has those that follow and those that lead and those that lead, some lead in the wrong direction and some lead in the right direction. 
You are of those that lead and have always led in the right direction, and it is an enormous privilege for me to be able to work so closely with you.  
And the second privilege is that you are leading at what is probably the defining question of our time: the fight against climate change, climate action.
I think we all agree that climate change is still running faster than we are. We all agree that there are reasons to be alarmed, to be concerned. We have had last year, for the first time in the past three, higher emissions of CO2.
We are seeing temperatures rising at a faster speed than expected, both in the atmosphere and at sea level. We are seeing the glaciers receding more quickly than expected. We are seeing the Arctic cap shrinking much more quickly and dramatically than in the past, so climate change is still running faster than we are.
But there are two pieces of very good news: one is that technology is on our side. Today, the cheapest energy is green energy. Today, the green economy is the good economy and those that will not bet on the green economy will have a grey future. They will not have a positive position in the future. This is true for companies; this is true for countries. Countries that do not back today the green economy will not be leading countries in the global economy of the future.
And the second good news is there is an enormous capacity to mobilize the civil society, the business community and the cities. It is not by chance that we are called citizens, even if we live in a village. The cities define today’s world more and more. What happens in cities is more and more what will happen decisively in the world. And we see cities, but also companies and civil society everywhere, leading climate action, leading the capacity of the international community to be able to beat climate change.
And leading this effort, we see Michael Bloomberg. Your permanent action, mobilizing cities, but also businesses, states in the United States, countries around the world, has made an enormous difference, and makes us believe that we will soon be running faster than climate change, that we will soon be starting to defeat climate change, that the Paris Agreement can be fully implemented, but with an enhanced ambition because we need that enhanced ambition in order to make sure that we reach the end of the century with an increase in temperature of about 1.5 and below 2 percent.
It is possible, and it is possible thanks to the leadership of persons like Michael Bloomberg. So, for me it is an enormous privilege to renew his mandate as someone who is, on behalf of the United Nations in charge of mobilizing cities, but also mobilizing in general business communities, civil societies, states and other regional organizations, in order to make sure that we are pushing Member States to force them to do everything that is also needed in order for climate action to be a victory for us to be able to win this defining issue of our times.
I am very, very grateful that you accepted, once more, to go on with this task. You would do it with or without the UN and your leadership will be recognized everywhere, because of what you represent by yourself. But we are very proud that you have decided to do it also with the UN, and I want to express my extremely deep gratitude and my confidence that we are going to win this battle.
Thank you very much.
Q: Secretary-General.  Can you tell us a little bit about the importance about the help and support from the US state governments or city governments for climate change, when the US federal government is abandoning this agreement?
SG: I think that what is clear is that the reality is changed by the companies that produce, the consumers, the cities that manage. Very little depends today, in relation to climate change, on central government.
What is decisive is the way society reacts. What is decisive is how companies operate, how cities are managed. This is exactly the bet that Michael Bloomberg is wielding all over the world, to make sure that those that really make the difference, those that really contribute to reduce or to increase the emissions are able to do things in a green way, are able to do things in a climate responsible way.
I must say, I am very confident that this battle will be won, because the realities of today’s economy are such that the wise decision is the green decision.
Those that try to subsidize, for instance, fossil fuels are going against the interests of their own countries. I usually say, I don’t know where I read it: it was not because of lack of stones that the Stone Age ended. It will not be because of the lack of fossil fuels that the fossil fuel economy will end.
We believe that the right bet is the bet that technology is pointing to, and that bet is the green technology, and cities, companies, consumers are making that bet. Governments are important, of course, because they can slow down this process, but the essential is the way societies as a whole react, and that is what Michael Bloomberg is leading in an exemplary way.