Warsaw, Poland

20 November 2013

Secretary-General's remarks at Ministerial Meeting on Climate Finance

Thank you for coming together at this key meeting in Warsaw on one of the key aspects of the climate challenge: that is money.

Climate finance is essential for addressing climate change.

And addressing climate change is essential for sustainable development.

In two years time, Parties to the Climate Convention have agreed to complete an ambitious global climate agreement. 

Progress on climate finance is crucial for fuelling confidence in the negotiations.

It is also critical to scaling up action on the ground.

Climate change is the greatest single threat to peace, prosperity and sustainable development.

I was reminded of this on my recent visit to the Sahel, and again last week when Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines.

We must accelerate and scale up action at every level. 

We need focused climate action, including through a new, global, legal climate agreement by 2015.

This can do more than anything else to unlock the huge investment necessary for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

It can also boost our post-2015 efforts to reduce poverty and promote sustainable development. 

That is why I urge all Parties to the Climate Convention to increase efforts to reach an agreement by 2015.

I am convening, as I said yesterday, a Summit focused on Climate Change on Tuesday, 23 September [next year] to raise political momentum in support of the negotiations and catalyse concrete action on all climate-related issues.

The Summit will bring together Heads of State and Government and global leaders from business, finance and civil society.

It presents a unique opportunity to leverage unprecedented financial, political and organizational capital to spur a transformational development surge.

I urge you to lead by example within your governments.

Help me to generate a growing alliance of influence and concrete action on climate change.

Distinguished Ministers,

Previous meetings have identified a range of barriers to sustainable investment.

These include what we call perverse subsidies, uncertainty about the predictability of government climate policies and budget constraints in difficult economic times.

We have to break down all these barriers.

To achieve the large-scale transformation necessary to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels, our targets for scaling-up climate finance must be much bolder.

We must send the right policy signals so we can develop high-impact opportunities that will unlock clean energy investments, close the viability gap between green and fossil fuel-based projects and de-risk renewable energy and low-carbon investments.

I see three areas for our common action.

First, public finance.

The rapid development of low-carbon infrastructure needs large injections of public capital and stable, predictable long term public policies. 

Climate finance is an investment in the future and must not be taken hostage by short-term budget considerations.

The rewards can be considerable.

As well as reducing emissions, we can light rural clinics and schools, empower local businesses and invigorate economies. 

Therefore, it is imperative that developed countries deliver on their public finance commitments and that all countries develop the stable frameworks for long term investments.

There is another reason why channelling public finance at scale is crucial.

This brings me to my second point: private finance.

Private investment is essential to meet the growing demand for energy in the developing world.

But we cannot mobilize private resources without a public lever.

Smart public financing can encourage local and international private investments.

Investors and companies need to join forces with the public sector.

I have been meeting with key representatives of all asset classes to discuss how they can contribute.

We will need to continue to be innovative in our dialogue with financial actors on how to catalyze private climate finance.

But our primary focus needs to be on launching and scaling up mainstream solutions that will attract hundreds of billions of dollars annually.

The bulk of institutional investors’ assets are in high-carbon investments.

These investors have the power – and I believe the responsibility -- to do their part in transforming the global economy and setting us on a safer path.

My third point concerns the Green Climate Fund.

We have a new Executive Director, Ms. Hela Cheikhrouhou, who has just taken up her post at Green Climate. 

We need to bring it into full operation as soon as possible.  That is promise. The shell is empty. We have an empty shell. There is nothing. Then how to provide support for developing countries on mitigation and adaptation? We need your support. Let us make this Green Climate Fund operational as soon as possible.

The Fund cannot be expected to be the exclusive conduit for climate finance. 

But it will be an important part of a public-private framework that supports low-carbon investment and fair access to climate financing in developing countries.

It can strengthen national ownership and enable countries to develop the expertise and institutions needed for using climate finance effectively.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

What we need should be clear to us all.

First, stable investment policies and conducive regulatory frameworks.

Second, more public finance.

Third, more private finance.

Better mechanisms for channelling investments to where they are most needed.

This is what we need at this time.

Climate change is a threat to economies large and small, and to the stability of the global financial system.

The longer we delay, the greater the costs – to communities, to businesses, to economies and to the planet.

I count on your wisdom and commitment.

Since we are here together with many Ministers, particularly, Finance Ministers and Environment Ministers. Since we are here with distinguished Finance Ministers, I would like to really appeal to Finance Ministers. I served in my own country as Foreign Minister. Foreign Minister is a very decent job [with a] lot of respect. Environment Ministers -- they are very busy. They have very good visions. Strong commitment. […] Ultimately [everything leads] to the hands of Finance Ministers.

I know the concerns and priorities and all their difficulties in domestic politics, domestic economic development management, in allocating and prioritizing these limited resources. Every country has limited resources. But [it depends] upon where you put the political priority.

That means Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Finance Ministers -- they have the key now to whether we can be successful or not in meeting all these global challenges. As [former] Foreign Minister, I could not have had that priority right. As Secretary-General of the United Nations now, I can have that priority, where limited resources given by the Member States could be better used. I make my decision.

Therefore, I urge the leaders, Presidents, Prime Ministers, and particularly, Finance Ministers, who assist Presidents and who overview overall national, global and regional policies.  I really count on their wisdom and far-sighted visions to work together with all the United Nations and the international community to be able to shape our own future [in a] socially, economically, environmentally sustainable [way]. Let us work together to make this world better for all.  I count on your leadership and strong commitment.

Thank you.