13 May 2019

Opening remarks at press encounter with James Shaw, New Zealand Minister for Climate Change

António Guterres

Today I had the opportunity to meet with New Zealand youth that are really in the front line of climate action. They very clearly recognise that we face a climate emergency and that we need to reverse the present trend which climate change is running faster than what we are. 

I mentioned a few minutes ago that here from the Pacific we must send a very clear message to Governments around the world because political will is not yet able to accompany the pace of climate change and the message from the Pacific to Governments around the world is that indeed it is important to move taxes from salaries to carbon, to tax pollution and not people, that subsidies for fossil fuels must end, tax payers money cannot be used to boost hurricanes to expand drought and heatwaves, to bleach corals or to melt glaciers and that we need to stop the construction of coal power plants from 2020 onwards because we need a green economy not a grey economy in the world.

It was very reassuring to see that here in New Zealand there is a strong commitment of the Government in order to reach carbon neutrality in 2050 as the scientific community is asking as a way to guarantee a that at the end of the century we will not have more than 1.5 degrees of warming and at the same time a strong commitment to support the people that might be impacted by climate action.

I believe that today for instance renewable energy is much more profitable, is much cheaper, than fossil fuel energy, but if you are a coal miner you also need an answer to your anxiety  - that is why the government of New Zealand is totally committed to address the concerns of those in agriculture or in industry that might be impacted by climate action to make sure there is a just transition, to make sure that everybody will be taken care of, to make sure that nobody will be left behind because that is the only way to mobilize the public opinions everywhere in the world in favour of climate action to make sure that we are going to defeat climate change.

So I am very grateful for the leadership provided by the government of New Zealand and very reassured to see the dynamism of the youth of New Zealand that has been a lesson for me.
Thank you.