New York

04 November 2015

UN Secretary-General's Remarks at High-Level Event on Climate Change [As delivered]

I thank the Governments of France and Peru, as well as the President of the General Assembly, for convening this important gathering.

We are meeting at an auspicious time.

The momentum for climate action is increasing.

Just two days ago, the Presidents of China and President France issued an ambitious joint statement on climate change.

I commend this and other efforts aimed at finding solutions to the difficult issues under negotiations.

As of the end of October, 155 countries have submitted national climate plans, what we call INDC’s (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions), that cover nearly 90 per cent of global emissions.

This represents a significant down-payment on a safer, healthier and more prosperous future.

These plans will advance progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

They provide a departure point for our final destination -- a world with global temperature rise limited to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

I commend those governments that have submitted plans, and  urge all remaining countries to share theirs as soon as possible before the Paris meeting. 

The world has set a deadline for concluding a universal climate agreement.

That deadline is just some four weeks away.

I remain optimistic that your Governments will conclude a meaningful agreement in Paris.

There are calls from all sectors of society demanding that they do so: cities and local communities; civil society groups; business people and investors; faith leaders and young people. 

The United Nations also needs to walk the talk.

I am following up on your call in Rio for the UN to become sustainable, as well as the recent decision by the Chief Executives Board calling for the UN system to become climate neutral by 2020.

From every walk of life, and every corner of the globe, we see people taking action to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and build a climate resilient future. 

I am heartened by this global outpouring of public support and action on climate change.

The world expects to see a similar positive momentum reflected in the negotiations.

However, despite months of talks, the key issues still remain in play. 

These include equity and differentiation, finance and ambition. 

These issues have proven too challenging for negotiators to resolve on their own.

They need clear guidance from your Ministers and leaders.

I will be very actively engaging with Heads of State and Government over the next four weeks to help them unlock these issues. 

Ultimate responsibility for success in Paris rests firmly in their hands.

I will urge world leaders to tell their negotiators that now is the time for compromise and consensus building. 

Bridges must be built to span the traditional divides between developed and developing countries.

Countries must work toward the common interest, beyond narrow national interests.

Climate change carries no passport and knows no national borders.

A meaningful agreement must be universal and fair. 

It must address urgency. 

And it must strengthen opportunity -- not just for some, but for all people in the world .

To be a success, Paris must deliver on four essential fronts.

The agreement must be durable and flexible. 

It must be rooted in solidarity. And it must be credible in its response to the urgency of climate change, including by providing the financial and other means to support this response. 

First, let me explain in detail: durability.

The markets need predictability over the long run.

Paris must provide a comprehensive, long-term vision of the opportunities created by low-emission, climate-resilient development. 

The agreement must send a clear signal to the private sector that the low-carbon transformation of the global economy is inevitable, beneficial, and already under way. 

It must help accelerate investments in clean energy and spur a global, low-carbon transformation well before the end of the century that is consistent with a below 2 degrees Celsius pathway.

Second, the agreement must be flexible.

It must strike a balance between the leadership role of developed countries and the increasing responsibility of developing countries to take action in line with their capabilities and respective levels of development.

Differentiation can and should be applied differently across the various pillars of the agreement in a manner that does not undermine the integrity of the collective effort.

Third, Paris must demonstrate solidarity with the poor and most vulnerable countries.

An agreement must ensure sufficient adaptation and mitigation support for developing countries to reduce emissions and strengthen resilience.

This is a moral imperative.

Those that have done least to cause climate change -- such as the least developed countries and small island developing states -- must not pay the ultimate price.

Fourth, an agreement must be credible in responding to rapidly escalating climate impacts.

It must include regular, five-year cycles for governments to review, assess and strengthen national commitments over time in line with science.

In that regard I welcome the agreement between the Presidents of China and France in Beijing that they have agreed to have a 5 year review process.

A Paris agreement must not lock in a level of mitigation ambition that undermines the below 2 degrees goal.

There can be no backsliding.

Current ambition must be the floor, not the ceiling, for future efforts.

Paris must include credible and clear mechanisms for measuring, monitoring and reporting progress in a transparent manner on a full range of actions.

This will help to build trust and confidence.

Last but not least, an agreement must provide for credible means of implementation, including climate financing.

Developed countries must keep their pledge to provide $100 billion a year by 2020. 

All concerned – both developed and developing countries -- must be part of a consultative, politically credible process for defining the $100 billion trajectory. 

I call on developed countries to make public finance pledges before Paris that balance both adaptation and mitigation needs.

This is essential for building the trust that is needed to secure a meaningful, universal agreement.

Developed countries must also take the lead in, and enhance their support for, financing post-2020.

Public finance should play a catalytic role in mobilizing the much larger private investment flows needed.


An agreement in Paris must mark a decisive and irreversible turning point in the world’s collective response to the climate challenge. 

The impacts of climate change are rapidly increasing.

The world’s collective ambition must increase, too.

Action must be fuelled by a sense of urgency as well as opportunity.

We must ensure that all countries are part of the solution, and that the benefits of low-carbon, climate-resilient growth are realized by all. 

I will continue to do everything in my power to help shepherd a meaningful global agreement.

I will call on your leaders to own this agreement, and to closely guide your ministers and negotiators. 

I will continue to encourage the path of compromise for the common good.

Alongside an agreement, I will also continue to work with the COP Presidents and the UNFCCC Executive Secretary to advance the Lima Paris Action Agenda.

This Action Agenda builds on the many, successful partnerships that were showcased at my Climate Summit last year.

It is not a substitute for an ambitious agreement, but a complement to it.

The Action Agenda is also fully consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals.

It provides solutions at all levels, from the local to the global, on essential issues, including transport, cities and energy.

At this time, solutions are what we urgently need.

By working together, we can and we will reach a meaningful, universal climate agreement in Paris.

I thank you for your commitment and leadership.

Thank you