Paris, France

07 December 2015

Secretary-General's remarks at event hosted by World Business Council for Sustainable Development [as prepared for delivery]

Distinguished business leaders, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank the World Business Council for Sustainable Development for hosting this event.

And I commend those leaders from the business community who are adopting forward-looking strategies and calling for ambitious policies that will help us achieve a low-emissions, climate-resilient future.

You understand that there need be no trade-off between addressing climate change and achieving sustainable economic growth.

Indeed, there are tremendous opportunities for countries and companies that take the lead in developing clean energy technologies and markets.

I would like to acknowledge the work of the Low Carbon Technology Partnership initiative.

And I commend the leadership of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development in developing road maps on how to advance progress on chemicals, cement, buildings, transport, renewables, forests and carbon capture and storage. 

These road maps pave the way for more ambitious efforts to reduce emissions.

It is encouraging to see business collaborate, sector by sector, to advance the sustainability agenda.

Last September ,at the Climate Summit, I called on the private sector to demonstrate that green business is good business.

Companies with progressive climate policies and green investments have shown they can prosper by addressing climate change.

This helps to give confidence to governments that economies can grow while taking climate action.

It shows that policies that punish polluters and reward cleaner, more efficient, sustainable behaviour can benefit the bottom line.

Climate change poses a profound threat to economic growth and sustainable development.

Issues like job creation, energy and food security and climate adaptation are all intertwined. 

We must address societal, environmental and economic needs together.

We cannot separate these dimensions of sustainable development.

Business cannot succeed in a society that fails.  

This year, United Nations Members States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Seventeen Sustainable Development Goals now serve as our guide to eradicating extreme poverty, reducing inequality and protecting the environment.

Twelve of these Goals are directly related to climate change.

A successful agreement in Paris will be a defining factor in the success of the SDGs.

Sustainable development is incompatible with extreme climate impacts.

The true test of commitment to Agenda 2030 lies in its implementation.

We can no longer afford to think and work in silos.

The gravity and the scale of the problems facing us today exceed the scope of any one actor to solve.

We need action from everyone, everywhere.

The risk of delaying action is becoming increasingly clear.

2015 is shaping up to be the hottest year on record.

Projections show that 2016 may be even hotter.

Greenhouse gas emissions are the highest they have been in over 800,000 years.

We have seen a steady increase in extreme weather and natural disasters.

As the global thermostat continues to rise, so will the damage to lives, livelihoods and economies in all regions.

The task ahead is great but not insurmountable.

We need to incorporate climate risk and opportunities for low-emissions growth into economic decision-making in all countries.

For that, we need leaders and early movers to inspire followers.

I count on business leaders to work with governments and the international community to help transform the global economy.

Many of you are already doing so, and I commend your efforts.

Around the world, the tide has started to turn.

Pragmatic companies are working to sustain their bottom line for the long-term.

Investors are decarbonizing their portfolios.

Carbon markets are beginning to link up among cities and regions.

But more vigorous leadership is needed to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius.

Forward-looking companies – like those represented here today – are taking the lead and transforming their business models for climate action.

Many are taking advantage of the new opportunities presented by the challenge of climate change.

Together, they are calling for a robust international climate agreement here in Paris.

They recognize that this is essential for providing predictability, unlocking capital and advancing the power of sustainable business.

The United Nations is ready to assist in any way we can to overcome barriers in implementing the sustainable development agenda. 

I invite you to work with us and join our Caring for Climate initiative.

Together, we can achieve a low-emissions, sustainable future.

As you leave Paris, I hope you carry with you a clear message to your consumers, employees, peers, and governments that how we do business today will determine if we can do business in the future.

I thank you for your leadership and wish you a productive meeting.