03 September 2016

Secretary-General’s remarks at ceremony for the deposit of instruments by China and the United States to join the Paris Agreement [as delivered]

Your Excellency Mr. Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China,

Your Excellency Mr. Barack Obama, President of the United States of America,


Distinguished Senior Ministers and Government officials both from China and the United States,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


First of all, I would like to thank deeply his Excellency the President Xi Jinping for hosting this historic event.


Today, I am honoured to receive the legal instruments for joining the Paris Agreement from China and the United States.


The leadership and close collaboration of both countries was pivotal to the successful conclusion of the climate change negotiations in Paris in December.


Together, China and the United States represent nearly 40 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.


Now, by formally joining the Paris Agreement, you have added powerful momentum to the drive for the Agreement to enter into force this year.


With China and the United States making this historic step, we now have 26 countries who have ratified and 39 per cent of global emissions accounted for, to be exact.


We just need another 29 countries representing 16 per cent of global emissions to bring this Paris Agreement into force. I am hopeful and optimistic that we can do it before the end of this year and before my term as Secretary-General of the United Nations ends.


I urge all leaders, particularly G20 countries, to accelerate their domestic ratification processes so we can turn the aspirations of Paris into the transformative climate action the world so urgently needs.


To build further momentum, I have invited world leaders to a high-level event at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 21 September.


I have asked leaders to come to New York with their instruments of ratification or to publicly commit to join the agreement before the end of this year.


Your actions today have greatly assisted this effort.


I commend again President Xi and President Obama for their far-sighted, collaborative leadership.


You have demonstrated the power of working together to achieve a result that none could achieve alone.


With the Paris Agreement, the world has an equitable, durable yet flexible global framework for reducing emissions, strengthening climate resilience and providing support to developing countries to build low-carbon economies and adapt to inevitable climate impacts. 


This global climate agreement will accelerate the growth of clean energy and help us achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.


It will strengthen international stability and security, save lives and improve human well-being.


President Obama just mentioned his own experience and involvement in the Copenhagen Climate Summit meeting, which he called chaotic. It was quite difficult for me, we really wanted to have this Climate Change Agreement adopted in Copenhagen.


It might have been a little more ambitious at the time, the countries were not fully ready.


President Obama was inaugurated January that year and he came with a very proud, first year as US President. And he was very much committed to do that.


While we were waiting, he asked me what I want to do after retirement. Well, Mr. President, I am going to write some memoir: one of the many important, inspiring thing will be my inspiring moment of President Obama’s leadership [in Copenhagen].


Have you ever imagined the President of the United States, holding his own laptop, going around the Heads of State sitting in a small chair, proposing a draft and changing it on the spot? I would have never expected that the US President would do that and I was so much inspired. He inspired everybody.


Even though we were not successful in that meeting, I think his leadership has shown many leaders participating that we must do that; and I really appreciate the President and President Xi Jinping for such a far-sighted, very bold ambitious leadership which has enabled us to make the Paris Agreement.


And now, with these two big countries joining the Paris Agreement, I am sure that we can really set a very ambitious dynamic step forward.


As we move to implement this historic Agreement, I count on your continued collaboration for the benefit of humankind and the protection of our common home.


Xie xie, thank you for your leadership.


Thank you.