UN Climate Speech / 15 Sep, 2018
"We Must Increase Climate Action and Create Unstoppable Momentum Towards COP24"

The Global Climate Action Summit closed on Friday in San Francisco after three days showcasing a surge of climate action and commitments from regions, cities, businesses, investors and civil society; and calling on governments everywhere to step up their efforts to tackle climate change.

At the closing ceremony, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said: “This Summit and its Call to Action make an important contribution towards achieving our collective goal: to keep global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius in line with the Paris Agreement. It will encourage governments worldwide to step up their actions, demonstrating the vital role that states and regions, cities, companies, investors, and civil society are playing to tackle climate change.

Full remarks as prepared for delivery

Seventy-three years ago, in this city, nations—ravaged by war, weary of its costs—pledged to achieve what had, for the first half of the century, been impossible: a lasting peace.

The signing of the UN Charter here in San Francisco was more than an agreement to get along.

It established a rules-based international order, championed multilateralism over self-interest, and clarified that the path forward was not through conflict but collaboration.

The day the Charter was signed, the American President, Harry Truman, told delegates:  

“You, members of this Conference, are to be the architects of the better world. In your hands rests our future.”

While challenges remain, we live in that better world. On average, we are healthier, better educated, and more peaceful than at any point in history.

But today, humanity faces a new challenge; one that threatens current and future generations.

Climate change is an opponent we shaped with our own hands, but whose power now threatens to overwhelm us.

It’s a problem that a rules-based international order is custom-designed to address—which led to the Paris Agreement.

Its signing was an unprecedented multilateral success. Its framework contains everything we need to address climate change.

But much work remains to not only complete it, but unleash its full potential.

Under the Paris Agreement, nations agreed to limit climate change to 2-degrees Celsius—ideally 1.5C. 

But what nations have pledged under Paris will bring the global temperature up about 3C by 2100.

In these last days we have repeatedly heard that this will have a devastating impact upon lives everywhere and will destabilize the global order.

All of this while the window of opportunity to address climate change gets smaller and smaller.

Never have we needed multilateralism like we do right now. Never have we needed the international community to come together like right now. Never have we needed the promises of 1945 to be fulfilled like we do…right now.

But, just when we need it most, our rules-based international order is questioned.

Throughout the world, we’re witnessing a great turning inwards—it’s happening at exactly the worst time.

We’re faced with two great challenges: the challenge of climate change, and the challenge of ensuring the multilateral system—a system that has been the bedrock of peace for almost three quarters of a century—remains our guide forward.

Today’s Summit represents a clear and undeniable statement that not only will we work together to address climate change—but that far from abandoning multilateralism, we will build on it.

It’s a clear declaration that those gathered here are stepping up action to put us on track for a climate-safe, healthy world for all.

I want you to know we’ve heard you loud and clear.

This Summit will help us achieve our collective goal: to boost ambition that we need to address climate change.

We must increase climate action and create unstoppable momentum towards COP24 in Poland and the Secretary General’s 2019 Climate Summit.

Non-Party stakeholders, as we have seen at this Summit, have a vital role to play

Here, we have confirmed that many of you are driving a transformational shift to a more resilient and sustainable future. But we need everyone to be on board.

Let us build upon the incredible enthusiasm and commitment that we have witnessed here, by embracing what I call inclusive multilateralism, one that recognizes the need for more voices at the table, not fewer.

It’s an approach that embraces the participation of subnational institutions such as states, provinces, cities and regions, as well as businesses, investors and non-governmental organizations.

Ladies and gentlemen, I recognize none of this is easy—nothing this transformative or important ever is. But it’s worth it.

It’s worth it because by addressing climate change, we can build a better, more resilient future, both for this generation and all g

enerations to follow……a future that is both cleaner and greener, but one where poverty is reduced, and that all people can live, love, learn and prosper.

In finishing, I would like to thank Governor Brown for hosting the event, and the other co-chairs Mike Bloomberg, Anand Mahindra, Minister Xie Zhenhua, Jayathma Wickramanayake as well as every person who worked so hard to make this Summit a success.

Thank you.