Ladies and Gentlemen – good morning.
I want to thank President Van der Bellen, and please convey my deep gratitude to the Government and people of Austria for their excellent hospitality in relation to this visit, but also structural hospitality for the UN agencies in Vienna – an outstanding place to work due to the generosity of the Austrian government and Austrian people.
It is wonderful to be back in Vienna – an important hub of the international system and a cherished home for many United Nations entities.
This week you will host the leaders of the entire UN family as we gather for the first time outside of New York since the start of the pandemic.
Karl Kraus once said that “the streets of Vienna are paved with culture, the streets of other cities with asphalt.”
I would add: with culture and with multilateralism.
And that multilateralism is needed more than ever at this extraordinarily difficult and dangerous time.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is causing massive devastation, destruction and suffering in the country, triggering the largest displacement in Europe since World War II – and sending shockwaves across the region and world.
This senseless war must stop.
It has inflamed a three-dimensional crisis — food, energy and finance — with devastating impacts on the most vulnerable people, countries and economies.
Global food security is an especially deep concern and was a focus of my recent meetings in Moscow and Kyiv.
We need quick and decisive action to ensure a steady flow of food and energy in open markets, by lifting export restrictions, allocating surpluses and reserves to those who need them, and addressing food price increases to calm market volatility.
But let’s be clear: a meaningful solution to global food insecurity requires reintegrating Ukraine’s agricultural production and the food and fertilizer production of Russia and Belarus into world markets, despite the war.
I am actively working to help facilitate a dialogue to make this a reality.
And all these tests come on top of a cascade of other challenges – from the COVID-19 pandemic to escalating inequalities and insufficient resources for recovery.
To rise to these challenges, we need to raise our ambition and act together with greater urgency.
I want to salute President Van der Bellen for his leadership and strong voice for advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and tackling the climate emergency.
Mister President, you are recognized as a leading champion of climate action.
As dramatic as it is, the war in Ukraine cannot make us forget that climate change is an existential threat to us all - to the whole world.
We can see the impacts everywhere – including right here in the Austrian Alps, where glaciers are retreating and ice and snow bridges disappearing.
I have just returned from the Sahel where the toxic combination of runaway climate change, an uneven recovery from COVID-19, and now the radiating impacts of the war in Ukraine are pummelling countries across the continent.
To keep the 1.5-degree limit agreed in Paris within reach, we need to cut global emissions by 45 percent this decade. Yet current climate pledges would mean a 14 percent increase in emissions.
And we are getting close to the tipping point that President Van der Bellen has just mentioned.
This is a catastrophe – particularly for vulnerable countries and communities.
Main emitters must drastically cut emissions, starting now.
This means accelerating the end of our fossil fuel addiction and speeding up the deployment of clean renewable energy.
I welcome Austria’s commitment to switch to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 and achieve climate neutrality by 2040.
I count on the EU to match this ambition and review its renewable energy and energy efficiency targets this year.
At the same time, we must invest rapidly in adaptation and resilience, particularly for the poorest and most vulnerable who have contributed least to the crisis.
I have been advocating for the formation of coalitions to provide major emerging economies with resources and technology to accelerate their transition from coal to renewable energy – and I count on European countries including Austria to help us deliver support at scale and with speed.
In Glasgow, donor countries agreed to collectively double finance for adaptation from 2019 levels but this agreement must be implemented as a matter of urgency, and eligibility systems must be reformed so vulnerable communities can access adaptation finance.
I also want to acknowledge the tremendous efforts of civil society – and of young people in particular – in pushing for meaningful, ambitious, and urgent change.
From the Alpenverein working to safeguard the beauty of the Alps for future generations, to the Arche Noah initiative engaged in preserving crop diversity – I am grateful for the engagement of your citizens for a more sustainable world.
I look forward to meeting students at the Vienna Technical University and learning about the innovative ways in which they are driving the energy transition we so desperately need.
So let me thank once again the people of Austria and the people of Vienna for their wonderful hospitality.
Let me thank once again the people of Vienna and the people of Austria for their wonderful hospitality.
Vielen Dank – or as I learned recently: “Vergelt´s Gott!”