UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa, along with the Director of the Potsdam Institute For Climate Impact Research, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Wendy Broadgate from Future Earth, and Johan Rockström from the Earth League, presented "10 Must-Knows on Climate Change from Science" today at COP23 in Bonn. They addressed policymakers and the public to show that achieving the Paris Agreement is necessary and possible. These are the Executive Secretary's remarks at the event.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. And thank you to Professor Schellnhuber for helping to organize this excellent event and for the release of this important publication.
As a quick aside, I’d like to note that last month Professor Schellnhuber won the Blue Planet prize, which honours outstanding thinkers who help meet challenges of planetary dimensions. It’s a well-deserved recognition, professor.
And, of course, I’d like to once again congratulate the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research on its 25th anniversary.
The Institute remains an important partner for UN Climate Change and the broader UN family.
I also want to recognize the two figureheads for the statement from Earth League and Future Earth:
Johan Rockström, Chair of Earth League and Executive Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre; and
Amy Luers, Executive Director of Future Earth, who apologizes for not being able to attend in person.
And also Wendy Broadgate, Future Earth Global Hub Director and speaker at this event, standing in for Amy Luers.
It was exactly one month ago that I spoke at PIK’s Impacts World event in Potsdam.
Before I comment on this publication that we’re here to celebrate, I want to talk about science and its importance in the struggle against climate change.
Some of what I say may sound familiar to those who attended my remarks in Potsdam, but I believe some messages bear repeating.
Ladies and gentlemen, when I talk about the importance of science in the climate change discussion, I’m talking about more than science simply being a set of reference points for policymakers.
Science is the foundation for all our work, and has been for decades. It helps the average person understand why they must act and influence their representatives at all levels to do the same.
I cannot understate the importance of this influence, because never has the need for action been more evident.
Extreme weather events have touched every corner of the globe, leaving heartbreak and devastation in their wake.
This is unacceptable; especially when it is in our power to address the human contribution towards climate change.
Humanity’s neglect of nature and the environment has led to climate challenges that have come quicker than many predicted.
While Paris put us on the right path, we’re still behind the climate curve. We need more action, more ambition, and we need it now.
Bottom line? Your work has never been more important.
At the same time, your information must be communicated in terms that people understand.
Scientists speak the language of specialized data, which is crucial to governments in the development of policy. It is not, however, the language of the average person.
If scientific information is to truly make a difference, if it’s to truly spur action, people must do more than simply understand it, they must be able to relate to it.
We also must talk about opportunities as well.
For example, we need to talk about how innovation can create new jobs, new economies and new hope for a more sustainable future.
The good news is that the Potsdam Institute and its partner institutions clearly “get it”, as this fantastic report shows.
It lays out 10 things people must know about the climate change process, timelines related to that process, and it’s important.
The language is blunt, concise, and will go a long way in helping people get a firm grip on what is happening and—this part is key—how they can personally get involved.
I’m going to encourage all policymakers here in Bonn to read this report, as well as recommending it to the public.
Again, I’d like to thank the Potsdam Institute For Climate Impact Research and Earth League, and Future Earth, for completing this work, and for making such a valuable contribution to helping people understand both the science and the climate change process.
We have much work ahead, both here in Bonn and beyond. I look forward to your valuable cooperation.
Please note: This is the prepared text of the speech and may differ from the delivered version.