10 October 2019

Secretary-General's remarks at press stakeout with Prime Minister of Denmark [scroll down for Q&A]

It is a pleasure to be visiting Denmark, a very good friend of the United Nations and a strong supporter of international cooperation.
The Prime Minister and I had productive discussions on a wide range of challenges, but of course the climate crisis was high on the agenda.
I had the occasion to thank Denmark for hosting today’s gathering of mayors from 70 of the world’s leading cities, known as C40, an important follow-up o the Climate Action Summit that was convened in New York just two weeks ago. 
Denmark co-led the Energy Transition part of the Summit.
Denmark is also a partner in the new Climate Investment Platform that was just launched in New York. 
And Denmark is a frontrunner on energy efficiency and the transition to our economic future – the green economy.
We all know that the climate emergency is worsening day by day, storm by storm, drought by drought, fire by fire.
Global emissions are increasing.  The world has just experienced the hottest summer in the Northern hemisphere ever and the second hottest winter in the Southern hemisphere ever.  The years 2015 to 2019 have been the five hottest years on the books ever.  And we are still seeing enormous subsidies for fossil fuels and coal plants and other old bad habits.
At the same time, we know there are solutions, as highlighted in the Climate Action Summit. 
Technology is on our side. And, as you know, we have a roadmap: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement.  And science is also telling us it is not too late.
But to avoid the climate cliff, we need to cut greenhouse emissions by 45 per cent by 2030; reach carbon neutrality by 2050; and limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century. 
Denmark is showing ambition and I continue to press all countries, including the largest emitters, to show leadership.
But there are also many other aspects in which I’d like to thank Denmark: for their very important financial contributions to our work; and to the prevention of conflicts in the world; for the mediation of disputes; for the support for the Peacekeeping Fund; for the support to peacekeeping operations; and for its commitments to human rights and its commitment to preserve a quota of 0.7 per cent of its GDP for official development assistance.
I want also to say how much we thank Denmark for its leadership, leadership, action, ambition and global citizenship in tackling the many problems we face, on so many fronts.
Of course, this is also the moment in which I want to express my deep concern about the escalation of conflict that we are witnessing in eastern Syria. It is absolutely essential to have a de-escalation of this conflict.
Military operations must always respect the United Nations Charter and international humanitarian law.
And I am particularly worried with the humanitarian concerns that exist now in relation to, not only possible casualties, but meaningful displacement that is taking place. I don't believe in military solutions for the Syrian problem, also for any other problem in the world. I always strongly believe in political solutions.
And we have a roadmap for a political solution – Security Council resolution 2254, and the Security Council, by the way, will be meeting this morning in NY again on the situation in Syria.
And one of the things that is also clear is that any solution for Syria will need to respect the sovereignty, the territorial integrity, and the unity of Syria. 
Q: A question to the Secretary-General related to the crisis at the Syrian border after the Turkish military [escalation]. Your excellency, it has been suggested that a peacekeeping force could be a solution, either on a European basis or potentially on United Nations peacekeeping force. Do you see this as a likely solution?
Secretary-General: The problem of peacekeeping forces is, as the name indicates, you need to have peace to keep. You cannot have a peacekeeping force where there is no peace to keep. A peacekeeping force is always the result of a political agreement. And, of course, if there is a political agreement and there is a peace to keep, a peacekeeping force has an important role to play. We are not yet there, I believe, so, at the present moment, what we must do is to make sure that we have a de-escalation of the conflict in Syria. And, of course, I'm worried with eastern Syria, but I'm also worried with Idleb.
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, Prime Minister Erdogan mentioned today that he might release a wave of refugees, 3.6 million refugees. Is the UN system capable of reacting to a task of that size? What is your comment to the remarks of the Turkish Prime Minister?
Secretary-General: In the letter that I received from the Turkish Government in relation to the present situation, it was said that any movement of refugees would respect the principles of voluntariness, safety and need. There is nothing to interpret because it’s based on the letter that I received from the Turkish Government.