UN Chief Remarks at the One Planet Summit

12 December 2017, Paris - verbatim of the UN Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Guterres remarks at the One Planet Summit.

President Macron,

Excellencies,

World Bank President Jim Kim,

Ladies and gentlemen,

We are not yet winning the war on climate change -- the defining challenge of our times.

The Paris Agreement lays the basis for ambitious action.

But we know that current commitments will not get us there.

Every day, in every region, the front pages are dominated by weather-related disasters – storms, floods, droughts, fires.

My recent visit to Barbuda and Dominica was truly heart-breaking and eye-opening.
Climate change is moving much faster than we are.

Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are higher than they have been for 800,000 years.

Alarmingly, this year saw the first increase in CO2 emissions in three years.

The past five years have been the hottest period on record.

We are in a war for the very existence of life on our planet as we know it, but we have an important ally – science and technology.

First, because what is happening is exactly as science has predicted.
Second, technological progress has already exposed the falsehood that responding to climate change is a threat to the economy.

The cost of renewable energy is plummeting.

All around the world, cities, regions states and territories are taking climate action and setting their own ambitious targets.

Thousands of private corporations, including major oil and gas companies are taking their own action.

Green business is good business.

We are seeing new industries.  New markets.  Healthier environments.  More jobs.  

The message is simple: those who fail to bet on a green economy will be living in a grey future.

That means much greater ambition by governments, civil society, the private sector -- and the world of finance.

Finance could be, should be and will be the decisive factor -- the difference between winning and losing the war.

Finance in its very nature is forward-looking.

We must make sure that it works not only for profit but for the future of people and the planet.

Finance is not scarce.  

Today’s global financial system is awash with funds.

Tens of trillions of dollars are earning low or even negative interest rates.

But, the opportunities for productive and profitable, low-carbon, climate-resilient investment are vast.

Renewables are now cheaper than coal-powered energy in dozens of developed and developing countries, creating the basis for sustainable energy for all

It is also a fact that fossil fuels remain heavily subsidized – meaning we are investing in our own doom.

I have heard it said that the stone age did not end because we ran out of stones.

We don’t have to wait to run out of coal and oil to end the age of fossil fuels.

We need to invest in the future, not the past.

We need policy makers and central banks, stock exchanges, pension funds, rating agencies and all financial actors to align investments with the needs of climate action and sustainable development.