UNSG: Failure to constrain climate change will create ‘climate chaos’

Date published on source: 
30 June 2015
Source organisation: 
United Nations
Keyword tags: 

New York: Welcoming what he called a “gratifying shift” in the climate change dialogue, the President of Kiribati today urged the international community to ponder ways to further contribute to that positive development, as the General Assembly held a high-level event to provide impetus towards reaching a universal and ambitious agreement in Paris in December.

“For too long, we have spoken of climate change as the most significant change of our time, but what have we really done about it?”, Anote Tong asked the Ministers, senior Government officials, civil society representatives and other stakeholders in attendance. For Kiribati and other low-lying atoll countries like Tuvalu, Marshall Islands and Tokelau, the critical and pressing climate change challenges must be addressed before they could even begin to talk of sustainable development.

Sam Kutesa (Uganda), Assembly President, said the well-being of the planet must go hand in hand with development efforts. While science unequivocally pointed to human activity as the primary cause of global warming, it also underlined that there was still a chance for this generation to reverse the current trends and preserve the planet through bold, collective action. “Simply put, it is not too late. But, we must act now. And we must act with courage,” he declared.

While the issues to be resolved ahead of the twenty-first Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) were both challenging and at times controversial, a successful outcome was possible with constructive engagement and flexibility of all parties, he said.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that, in many ways, “the stars are aligned as never before”, with the world’s two biggest greenhouse-gas emitters announcing ambitious actions and the number of national climate laws and policies nearly doubling since 2009. China, the European Union and the United States had “placed their bets” on low-carbon, climate-resilient growth, and the price of renewable energy sources was falling dramatically, with the world using more renewable electric power each year.

The private sector, he said, was integrating climate risk into decision-making, revamping energy systems and calling for a price on carbon, while civil society was demanding action, demonstrating that the world was “hungry” for and capable of taking serious steps to meet the climate challenge. The pace of UNFCCC discussions, however, was far too slow.

“If we fail, we will condemn our children and grandchildren to a future of climate chaos,” Mr. Ban said. “If we succeed, we can set the world on course for greater stability, better health and stronger economies for all.”

Mogens Lykketoft, Speaker of the Parliament of Denmark and President-elect of the General Assembly for the seventieth session, said the Paris conference was the first real test of translating the world’s collective commitment to sustainable development into action.

“We should take action now,” said Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, President of the twentieth session of the Conference of Parties (COP20) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Minister of Peru. “We have already run most of the marathon,” he said, emphasizing that, now, it was imperative to “put all the pieces together”.

Laurent Fabius, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France and President of COP21, said climate change and humanity’s contribution could no longer be contested. The threat was global in nature, which required global action.

Xiuhtezcatl Roske Martinez, a 15-year-old civil society representative, said it would take truly united action to save the planet for his generation and those unborn. “Seeing my world collapsing around me pushed me to action,” he said, urging people to see climate change as a clear and present danger.

Also speaking this morning were Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace of the Holy See; Christiana Figueres, UNFCC Executive Secretary; and Vuk Jeremić, President of the Centre for International Relations and Sustainable Development.

Panel I: Mobilizing political momentum for ambitious actions on mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation

Panel II: Mobilizing stakeholders for ambitious actions on mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation

* The complete summary of the discussion can be accessed here.