02 November 2019

Opening remarks at press encounter at Bangkok's Centenary Park

António Guterres

I am very pleased to visit this climate mitigation project, which is very symbolic] and especially because it is in the context of an ASEAN Summit that as sustainability as its main issue for discussion. And the biggest threat to sustainability today in the world is climate change.
Just a few days ago, a research center published a report saying that the level of the oceans is rising much faster than what was forecasted because of climate change. According to this new report, unless we are able to reverse this trend, because climate change for the moment is running faster than what we are, unless we are able to defeat climate change, in 2050 the research has forecasted that 300 million people will be flooded by sea water in the world. 
Dramatically, the most vulnerable areas are exactly in Southeast Asia, in Japan, China, Bangladesh and India. And according to this research, Thailand risks to have 10% of its population in flooded areas by the sea.
People can discuss the accuracy of these figures, but what it is clear is that the trend is there. Climate change is running faster than what we are and is the biggest threat to the planet at the present moment, the defining issue of our time.
That is why we are deeply committed, and in all meetings around the world, deeply committed to raise attention to governments, to the business community, to the civil society, to local authorities, to the needs to abide by what scientists tell us is necessary to do and what science tell us is that we need to contain the rising temperatures 1.5 degrees until the end of the century. And for that to be possible, we need to be carbon neutral in 2050 and reduce the emissions by 45% in the next decade.
Now, this requires a lot of political commitments. And we are not yet that we are lagging behind. We have to put a price on carbon. We need to stop subsidies for fossil fuels. And we need to stop the creation of new power plants based on coal in the future. And this question is particularly sensitive in this part of the world because there is still a meaningful number of new coal power plants for electricity production that is foreseen in the future in East Asia, in Southeast Asia and in South Asia.
There is an addiction to coal that we need to overcome because it remains a major threat in relation to climate change and one of the messages in the summit will be very clearly that countries in these areas that are countries that are in one of the most vulnerable areas to climate change need to give an example, need to be in the front line of carbon pricing, of stopping subsidies to fossil fuels, and of stopping the construction of coal power electricity plants in order to be able to defeat climate change and to preserve the beautiful cities like Bangkok and others that we want as a legacy to humankind forever.