New York

27 January 2016

Secretary-General's remarks at Investor Summit on Climate Risk [as delivered]

I thank Ceres and the UN Foundation for organizing this very important gathering to demonstrate our commitment to action. Now, there is a very nice, even though not perfect 100%, very solid ambitious and far reaching climate Paris Agreement. It is now our responsibility, our moral and political responsibility, to put them into action on sustainable development goals and Paris Agreement.

And I thank everyone in this room who has helped to seed the ground for the historic Paris Agreement, through your investments, your advocacy or your example as a corporate climate leader.

It was a long and difficult journey towards success in Paris. So during the last 9 years, we have been working very, very hard. While people have been talking all the time, they were very much reluctant to make a move but this time we did.  That was I think our common victory.

But today I stand before you with newfound hope that together we can -- and will -- meet the climate challenge.

We have entered a new era of clean energy growth that will fuel a future of opportunity and prosperity for every person on the planet. 

To keep climate change high on the world’s agenda, I will host a signing ceremony for the Paris Agreement on 22 April.  I have already sent out invitations to all world Heads of State and Government.  I expect that most of them will come to put their names, to make sure that this agreement will be ratified and come into effect as soon as possible. We need 55 countries, at least 55 countries to trigger provision and 55% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. We may need for this 55% maybe 3 or 4 countries like China, United States and some others, then it will easily become 55%.  But we need to have at least 55 countries joining, so that’s our target to make it as soon as possible.

To realize the commitments and aspirations of the Paris Agreement we need scaled up action now -- at every level, from the local, to the regional and global.

Your leadership, your advocacy and your investments are vital.

The Paris Agreement marks a decisive turning point for global cooperation on one of humanity’s greatest challenges. In Davos forum, I talked to many business and government leaders that there seems to be a tendency to believe that now that the Paris Agreement is done, it is now government.  We have done all what we have done.  But real action starts now.  The business community and civil society needs to push government so that they will keep this agreement. 

It marks the beginning of the end of growth built solely on fossil-fuel consumption.

The once unthinkable has now become unstoppable.  This train is moving. It started at the Paris station, it has to go and move. 

Governments, businesses and investors around the world are realizing that the transformation to low-emission, climate-resilient growth is inevitable, beneficial and already under way.

The 2030 Development Agenda and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change provide an unprecedented opportunity to reduce climate risks and maximize clean energy prosperity that leaves no-one behind.

The direction of travel is clear.

In Paris, 196 Parties said the world must end its reliance on fossil fuels and be carbon-neutral by the end of the century.

The Paris Agreement provides a durable yet flexible framework.

There are transparent rules of the road to monitor progress and enhance accountability.

Markets now have the clear signal they need to unleash the full force of human ingenuity and scale up investments that can generate low-emissions resilient growth.

The world now counts on you to act at the speed and scale needed to transform the global economy.

To keep global temperature rise well below 2 degrees, and even 1.5 degrees, we must begin the shift away from fossil fuels immediately.

We need a massive scaling up of investments in clean energy and energy efficiency.

That includes providing modern, sustainable energy to the more than one billion people who currently live without it.

That is the route to ending poverty, increasing opportunity and laying the foundation for sustainable global economic growth.

In 2015, clean energy investments stood at around $330 billion dollars, more than six times higher than in 2004. 

This is a good down-payment, but far less than the “clean trillion” needed annually throughout the coming decades to keep temperature rise to acceptable levels and limit the risks from climate change. 

Today, I call on the investor community to build on the strong momentum from Paris and seize the opportunities for clean energy growth.

I challenge investors to double – at a minimum – their clean energy investments by 2020.

Sustainable, clean energy is growing, but not nearly fast enough to meet energy demand which is required by what science tells.

The investor community is of critical importance if we are to move from aspirations to action.

I see five steps needed to turn the aspirations of Paris into action on the ground.

First, we must ensure that the national climate plans of developing countries are financed.

Institutional investors are in a particularly strong position to provide the significant amounts of capital needed at scale.

These financial climate plans offer a wealth of investment opportunities in energy and financial infrastructure.

Financial innovations in clean energy are sweeping the globe, including in developing countries.

In fact, non-OECD countries are now investing more in clean energy than OECD members.

Second, pension funds must use their influence as investors and shareholders to accelerate the rapid de-carbonization of the economy.

Third, I call on the banking sector to continue scaling up the green bond market while changing its lending practices to support green investments and reflect the growing risk inherent in the brown economy.

Fourth, I call on the insurance industry to strengthen climate resilience and disaster risk reduction efforts, especially in the most vulnerable countries.

Fifth, investors need to know how the impacts of climate change can affect specific companies, sectors and financial markets as a whole.

These risks must be more clearly disclosed.

I also challenge governments to create a level playing field for clean energy investment through carbon pricing, removing fossil fuel subsidies, and strengthening stable and predictable regulatory and investment environments.

Investors and businesses that redirect resources to low-carbon, climate-resilient growth will be the economic powerhouses of the 21st century.

Those that fail to do so will be on the losing side of history.

Every decision on investment and resource allocation must be part of the solution.

Every dollar must be invested in low-carbon goods and services.

The private sector is the engine that will drive the climate solutions we need to reduce climate risks, end energy poverty and create a safer, more prosperous future for this and future generations. 

Each of you has a major role to play.

I thank you for your efforts to date, and look forward to continuing our work together to usher in the new era of low-carbon prosperity.

In a world of scarce resources, you provide one of the rarest of all commodities – leadership by example.

I thank you for your strong leadership.