Floods of promises: Climate summit of UN SG at NY

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Floods of promises: Climate summit of UN SG at NY

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 I was there in audience in New York when UN Secretary General gave this speech. Will be useful to see how much of these passionate promises, rocky determinations and financial commitments get realized.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today was a great day – a historic day. Never before have so many leaders gathered to commit to action on climate change. I thank every one of you who came to New York with ambition and commitment.

I asked for bold announcements from Governments, business, finance and civil society in five key areas. The Summit delivered.

First, we heard strong commitment for a meaningful, universal climate agreement in Paris next year, with a first draft to be presented in Lima in December. Leaders reaffirmed their determination to limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius by cutting emissions. Many leaders, from all regions and all levels of economic development, advocated for a peak in greenhouse gas emissions before 2020, decisively reduced emissions thereafter, and climate neutrality in the second half of this century.

We heard commitments to cut emissions from many countries. In addition, coalitions were announced in the areas of forestry, energy efficiency and transportation. And leaders of the oil and gas industry, along with national Governments and civil society organisations, made an historic commitment to identify and reduce methane emissions by 2020.

Second, on finance, public and private sources showed the way forward for mobilizing the finance we need.  Leaders expressed strong support for the Green Climate Fund. Many leaders called for the Fund’s initial capitalization at an amount no less than $10 billion.

A total of $2.3 billion was pledged towards the Fund’s initial capitalization today, and others committed contributions by November 2014. A new coalition of governments, business, finance, multilateral development banks and civil society leaders announced their commitment to mobilize upwards of $200 billion for financing low-carbon and climate-resilient development. Private banks announced they would issue $20 billion of Green Bonds and that they would double the market to $50 billion by 2015, next year. The insurance industry committed to double its green investments to $82 billion by the same date, by next year. A coalition of institutional investors committed to decarbonize $100 billion by December 2015 and to measure and disclose the carbon footprint of at least $500 billion in investments – all of this by next year.

Third, carbon pricing. This is one of the most powerful tools available for reducing emissions and generating sustainable development and growth. Many leaders from Government and business supported putting a price on carbon through various instruments and called for intensified efforts to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. Thirty companies announced their alignment with the Caring for Climate Business Leadership Criteria on Carbon Pricing. And a number of leaders agreed to join a new Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition to drive action aimed at strengthening carbon pricing policies and redirecting investment.

Fourth, we heard how strengthening resilience – both climate and financial – is a smart and essential investment. Adaptation needs are growing, particularly for the Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States, which are most at risk and need most international support. Leaders agreed to strengthen and scale up the risk financing mechanisms for Africa and the Caribbean. A comprehensive climate risk resilience initiative was also launched to support Pacific Small Island Developing States. Leaders from the insurance industry, representing $30 trillion in assets and investments, committed to creating a Climate Risk Investment Framework for industry-wide adoption by the end of next year.

Fifth, new coalitions are forming to meet the full scope of the climate challenge. The first Global Agricultural Alliance was launched to enable 500 million farmers worldwide to practice climate-smart agriculture by 2030.  Leaders of the oil and gas industry, along with national Governments and civil society organisations, made an historic commitment to identify and reduce methane emissions by 2020. A new Compact of Mayors, representing 200 cities with a combined population of 400 million people, pledged new commitments to reduce annual emissions by between 12.4 and 16.4 per cent. Leaders from pension funds committed to decarbonising investments worth $100 billion and disclosing the carbon foot-print of investments worth $500 billion.

These are the highlights from my Chairman’s Summary, and this 2014 Climate Summit Chair’s Summary and Outcome Document will be distributed soon to the Member States for your easy reference and information.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I thank all the leaders from Government, business, finance and civil society who came to New York with ambition and commitment. Looking forward, we must maintain the spirit of compromise and commitment that characterized our discourse. We must fulfil and expand on all the pledges and initiatives brought forward today.

As we walk together on the road to Lima and Paris in December 2014 and 2015, let us look back on today as the day we decided – as a human family – to put our house in order to make it liveable for future generations. Today’s Summit has shown that we can rise to the climate challenge.


Rajendra Shende

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