Lima, Peru

11 December 2014

Secretary-General's remarks at High-Level Ministerial Meeting on Climate Action

Thank you for your leadership and engagement.

The global thermostat is rising.  So is our awareness of the risks posed by climate change.

Like never before, there is a shared understanding that we are in this together. 

And together is the only way we will transform this crisis into an opportunity.

Now is the time for decisive global action on climate change.

The more we delay, the more we will pay.

As you know, I hosted a Climate Summit in September in New York.

The Summit had two aims: first, to mobilize political will for a universal agreement at the climate negotiations in Paris in 2015; and to catalyze ambitious action on the ground to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen resilience.

At the Climate Summit, I called for ‘all hands on deck’ to advance climate action.

That call was answered by more than 100 heads of State and government -- and hundreds of leaders from businesses, financial institutions, and civil society.

Together they announced ambitious commitments to climate action.   

New coalitions came together to advance sustainable agriculture and energy efficiency.

Coalitions on transport announced bold commitments to reduce emissions.

CEOs committed to sustainable commodity supply chains that will help preserve the world’s forests.

Dozens of governments committed to advancing renewable energy in Africa and in the Small Island Developing States. 

Industry leaders in oil and gas, freight, HFCs and municipal waste all came forward with commitments to climate action. 

Leaders from governments, the investment community and financial institutions committed to mobilize hundreds of billions of dollars to finance low-carbon and climate resilient pathways.
These commitments will involve more than $200 billion of financial assets by the end of 2015.

City networks representing over 2,000 mayors joined a Compact to harmonize climate strategies. 

On my way to Lima, I visited the city of Chicago and saw Mayor Emanuel’s successful Retrofit Chicago initiative to reduce energy use in large commercial buildings by 20 per cent over 5 years. 

I went to the Rookery building – which is 125 years old – and retooled for the future.

This is yet another example of how ambitious local action can spur global action.

We must help ensure all of these efforts spur momentum for change – and that all commitments are fully implemented.

We must act urgently to keep average global temperature rise below 2ºC – the internationally-agreed limit.

That is why your efforts are so crucial.

Actions beget ambition. The more action we take today, the more likely countries will push for stronger agreements tomorrow.

Actions now will set a strong foundation for Paris, and go hand-in-hand with our efforts to realize sustainable development. 

We cannot eradicate poverty without strengthening climate resilience and utilizing cleaner, safer sources of energy. 

Indeed, climate action and sustainable development are two sides of the same coin.

We have several tasks to complete in Lima to ensure a fair and balanced outcome.

First, countries must deliver, by the end of this COP, a draft text for the 2015 Agreement that provides a clear and solid foundation for negotiations next year in Paris.

We have been talking over the last two decades.  Now it is time to begin real, serious negotiations based on a draft text.

A non-paper is not an option.  I urge all delegations to overcome all procedural matters and deliver a text with a formal status, so that the work of negotiating can begin in earnest at the
February session.  We don’t have a moment to lose.  

Second, we achieved an important milestone this week.  Thanks to many pledges, from developed and some developing world countries, we have now crossed the threshold of $10 billion for initial capitalization of the Green Climate Fund [GCF].  That is welcome news – but it is only a down payment and we must ensure ready access to the most vulnerable especially SIDS and LDCs.  I call on developed countries, and developing countries in a position to do so, to further contribute to the GCF. 

And third, we must spare no effort to strengthen climate action commitments on the ground.

On the eve of the Climate Summit, I marched in the streets of New York for climate action.

Nearly 400,000 people from joined from around the world. I see many, many people [here] who have joined me at that time.

Among those by my side was a young leader – a young woman named Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner from the Marshall Islands.

Kathy is an activist and a poet from the Marshall Islands who movingly spoke at the Summit as the voice of civil society.

She read a poem that was a letter to her own daughter, she was holding her daughter.  In it, she said “they are marching for you…because we deserve to do more than just survive – we deserve to thrive… (and) we won’t let you down.”

How moving, how touching this is. She was expressing her passion and urgent appeal to the world leaders, to all of you.

You have helped generate tremendous momentum.  But we must keep going.

We cannot let people and our planet down. 

We need ambitious climate action now.

Thank you for your leadership and thank you for doing your part. 

I thank you. Muchas gracias.