Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me start by congratulating all those who brought this event together today. They had no money to spend, just great ambition and ideas they wanted to share with the world.
It is a pleasure to welcome you all as we prepare for the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit, focused on the defining issue of our generation – possibly of all generations.
For most of the world leaders slated to attend, the journey here will not be unusual. It will follow September’s well-trodden, annual path to the General Assembly. Nor is it unusual for decision-makers to gather in this iconic building to tackle intractable problems. The United Nations is no stranger to adversity.
But this Climate Action Summit is a little different.
It asks politicians, business leaders, financiers, and activists young and old not just to imagine a different future, but to explain how they are building it – and quickly; because effective climate action is all about time. The emergency of global warming is like a runaway train. Carbon-intensive lifestyles are in the driving seat, racing towards a cliff and dragging the rest behind.
Either we decouple from that way of life now, wave goodbye to our carbon dependence, and build a future to be proud of, or we go over the edge.
Let us be clear: none of us intend to go over the edge.
This Summit, therefore, is a chance for all sectors of society to table what they will do, at a time when humanity does not have the luxury of a poor imagination.
As the Deputy Secretary-General has just conveyed, three elements will be key to climate success: ambition, acceleration and mobilization, and they will shape our support as the UN Development Programme in the important years ahead.