19 November 2013

Secretary-General's remarks to the Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP19/CMP9) High-level Segment

I am honoured to be here with you today. This is the second time for me in recent years that I attend this COP meeting sponsored, hosted by the Government of Poland.

I thank the Polish Government and people for their hospitality and strong commitment for climate change.

All of us in this room share a momentous responsibility.

Climate change threatens current and future generations.

We need look no further than last week’s catastrophe in the Philippines.  I extend my deepest condolences to those affected and families and victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

All around the world, people now face and fear the wrath of a warming planet.

The science is clear.  Human activities are the dominant cause of climate change.  We cannot blame nature.

Greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.  We are the first humans ever to breathe air with 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide.  

The consequences are profound, dangerous and known to [us] all.

Earlier this year, I visited Iceland, where the rate at which the glaciers are melting is among the fastest in the world. I was told if we do not take [an] urgent action now Iceland may be a land without ice soon. 

Earlier this month, I visited the Sahel region, together with the President of the World Bank, the African Union Chairperson and top officials of the European Union and the African Development Bank.  We saw the toxic mix and climatic conditions – including extreme drought -- that are undermining the region’s development and security.

We must rise to these challenges with wisdom, urgency and resolve to address climate change.


I am deeply concerned that the scale of our actions is still insufficient to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels.

But I am also hopeful because I see opportunity and progress on multiple fronts towards a low-carbon future.

Governments, business, community groups, women, youth and indigenous leaders are building our collective capacity.

Initiatives such as the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, Sustainable Energy for All and UN-REDD are reducing emissions and strengthening resilience.

New programmes for sustainable cities and climate-smart agriculture are delivering benefits to people and the planet.

Countries and companies are realizing the economic gains of combating climate change.

Global demand for renewable energy continues to rise very sharply.

We now know it is possible to close the emissions gap.

We must build on this momentum.

The United Nations, for its part, is engaging in many fronts including the “Greening the Blue” by reducing the footprint and working towards climate neutrality.


You have agreed to finalize an ambitious global legal agreement on climate change by 2015.

We have a steep climb ahead. I see four areas for our action.

First, those countries that have not yet done so should swiftly ratify the second commitment [period] of the Kyoto Protocol, agreed in Doha.

Second, I call on you to step up [on] finance, including long-term finance and the Green Climate Fund.

Progress on funding for adaptation and mitigation can fuel confidence and scale up action on the ground.

To achieve the large-scale transformation necessary to stabilize the climate, nations must meet their climate finance commitments and make new targets much bolder.  They must also send the right policy signals for investment.

Third, I urge you to construct an action agenda to meet the climate challenge.  Current pledges are simply inadequate.  Here, too, we must set the bar higher.

Fourth, we must lay firm foundations for the 2015 agreement.  Success in Paris means bringing substantive progress to Lima.  That means [in] Warsaw here we have to build a crucial stepping stone.


I thank you for supporting my initiative to convene a Climate Summit next year in New York.

The Summit focused on climate change will take place on Tuesday, 23 September next year, one day before the opening of the annual General Assembly debate.

In that regard, I thank most sincerely His Excellency Ambassador John Ashe, the President of the General Assembly, for his leadership and strong commitment for climate change.

This Summit is meant to complement the UNFCCC process and to be a solutions summit, not a negotiating session. This will be a complimentary session to the ongoing UNFCCC negotiation process.

Today, I invite all Heads of State and Government, along with leaders from finance, business community, local government and civil society, to this Climate Summit.

I ask all who come to bring bold and new announcements and action.  We need your political leadership at this crucially important time.

I urge you to think in terms of your legacy.

Plan not only for your country but for your neighbour and your neighbour's neighbour.

Build not only for today but for your children, and their children and [future] generations.

I count on your strong engagement, support and leadership. Let us work together, ladies and gentlemen, to make this world better for all. Let us shape this future, our own future for all succeeding generations and environmentally sustainable planet Earth.

Thank you very much.