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remarks at 2019 Climate Action Summit [bilingual, as delivered]

New York, 23 September 2019

[bilingual, as delivered]


Ladies and gentlemen,

Nature is angry. 

And we fool ourselves if we think we can fool nature. 

Because nature always strikes back. 

And around the world, nature is striking back with fury. 

Consider the last few months.

July — the hottest month ever.

June through August — the hottest summer in the Northern hemisphere ever;

and the second hottest winter in the Southern hemisphere ever.

The years 2015 to 2019 — the five hottest years on the books ever.

Our warming earth is issuing a chilling cry:  Stop.

If we don’t urgently change our ways of life, we jeopardize life itself.

Look around.

Seas are rising and oceans are acidifying. 

Glaciers are melting and corals are bleaching. 

Droughts are spreading and wildfires are burning.

Deserts are expanding and access to water is dwindling.  

Heatwaves are scorching and natural disasters are multiplying. 

Storms everywhere are more intense.  More frequent.  More deadly.

I have seen it with my own eyes – from Dominica to the Sahel to the South Pacific.

In May, I went to the island nation of Tuvalu where I witnessed an entire country fighting for its very existence against the rising seas. 

Two months ago, I visited Mozambique which was pummelled by unprecedented back-to-back cyclones.

A few days ago, I was in the Bahamas, where Hurricane Dorian pounded the country for two unrelenting days. 

The destruction was not simply appalling.  It was apocalyptic. 

Make no mistake, when we see those images, we are not just seeing damage. 

We are seeing the future --- if we do not act now.

Dear friends,

Someone asked me the other day, doesn’t all of this make you despair? 

My answer was a clear and resounding no.

I am hopeful. 

And I am hopeful because of you. 

This is not a climate talk summit.  We have had enough talk.

This is not a climate negotiation summit because we don’t negotiate with nature.

This is a climate action summit.

From the beginning, I said the ticket to entry is not a beautiful speech, but concrete action.

And you are here with commitments.

Governments are here to show you are serious about enhancing Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement.

Cities and businesses are here showing what leadership looks like, investing in a green future.

Financial actors are here to scale-up action and deploy resources in fundamentally new and meaningful ways.

And coalitions are here with partnerships and initiatives to move us closer to a resilient, carbon-neutral world by 2050.

I am very grateful to the leaders and members of the 9 wide-ranging coalitions that worked with great creativity and passion so that we can all get the most out of this Summit.

And young people – above all, young people – are here providing solutions, insisting on accountability, demanding urgent action. 

They are right.

My generation has failed in its responsibility to protect our planet.  That must change. 

The climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we can win.

The climate crisis is caused by us – and the solutions must come from us. 

We have the tools: technology is on our side. 

Readily-available technological substitutions already exist for more than 70 per cent of today's emissions.

And we have the roadmap: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

And we have the imperative:  undeniable, irrefutable science.

The best science, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, tells us that any temperature rise above 1.5 degrees will lead to major and irreversible damage to the ecosystems that support us.

But science also tells us it is not too late.  We can do it.  Limiting warming to 1.5 ºC is still possible.

But it will require fundamental transformations in all aspects of society—

how we grow food, use land, fuel our transport and power our economies.

We need to link climate change to a new model of development – a fair globalization –  with less suffering, more justice and harmony between people and planet.

Dear friends,

There is a cost to everything. 

But the biggest cost is doing nothing.

The biggest cost is subsidizing a dying fossil fuel industry, building more and more coal power plants, and denying what is plain as day.

That we are in a deep climate hole and to get out, we must first stop digging. 

After all, is it common sense to give trillions in hard-earned taxpayers’ money to the fossil fuel industry to boost hurricanes, spread tropical diseases, and heighten conflict?

Is it common sense to build ever more coal plants that are choking our future?

Is it common sense to reward pollution that kills millions with dirty air and makes it dangerous for people in cities around the world to sometimes even venture out of their homes? 

It is time to shift taxes from salaries to carbon, and to tax pollution, not people

Chers amis,

La communauté scientifique ne cesse de nous le rappeler : nous devons à tout prix réduire les émissions de gaz à effet de serre de 45% d’ici 2030 ; atteindre la neutralité carbone d’ici 2050 ; et limiter la hausse de la température globale à 1,5 degrés Celsius d’ici la fin du siècle. 

Une accélération des financements climatiques est donc nécessaire.

Il est ainsi indispensable de reconstituer les ressources du Fonds vert pour le climat, tout comme il est essentiel que les pays développés respectent l’engagement pris de mobiliser, d’ici 2020, 100 milliards de dollars par an de fonds publics et privés, afin de soutenir les pays en développement dans leurs efforts d’atténuation et d’adaptation.

Car même si l’on réussit à baisser les émissions, les effets dramatiques du changement climatique sont déjà là et l’adaptation est donc devenue une priorité absolue et une condition essentielle pour augmenter la résilience des pays et des communautés et éviter la souffrance humaine.

Je remercie les pays qui ont d’ores et déjà augmenté leurs engagements, en particulier ceux qui ont doublé leurs contributions au Fonds vert pour le climat.

J’en appelle à votre audace : avançons vers une transformation planétaire de la finance, une finance compatible avec un monde neutre en carbone.

Chers amis,

Ce sommet n’est pas censé résoudre tous nos problèmes du jour au lendemain, mais il doit donner l’élan nécessaire pour activement mettre en œuvre les objectifs de l’Accord de Paris.

La dynamique créée ici aujourd’hui doit guider nos prochaines rencontres : la Conférence des Nations Unies sur le climat, qui aura lieu en décembre au Chili et, l’année prochaine, la Conférence sur le transport durable à Beijing, la Conférence sur les océans à Lisbonne, la Conférence sur la biodiversité à Kunming et le Sommet sur la nature à New York.

N’ayons pas peur d’être ambitieux, n’ayons pas peur d’accentuer la pression et, surtout, n’ayons pas peur de sans cesse rappeler la vérité et la réalité de la situation.

Adressons aux dirigeants politiques et aux acteurs des marchés le message suivant : la transition vers une économie verte aboutira à de meilleures conditions de vie, à de meilleurs emplois, à une meilleure santé, à une meilleure sécurité alimentaire, à davantage d’égalité et à une croissance durable.

Si nous avançons ensemble, personne ne sera laissé de côté. 

Dear friends,

Science tells us that [on] our current path, we face at least 3-degrees Celsius of global heating by the end of the century.

I will not be there, but my granddaughters will.

And your grandchildren, too. 

I refuse to be an accomplice in the destruction of their home and only home.

I will not be a silent witness to the crime of dooming our present and destroying their right to a sustainable future.

It is my obligation – our obligation – to do everything to stop the climate crisis before it stops us.

Time is running out.  But it is not too late.

So, let us heed the calls of wise leaders -- religious, business and especially young people who are taking to the streets to demand that we change our relationship with nature now.

Let’s lace up our running shoes and win the climate race for us all.

Thank you.

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