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Twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21)

and the eleventh session of the Conference of the Parties

serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 11)

Paris, 12 December 2015


Closing address by

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change


Thank you very much for a very emotional moment. I must say that a speech by President Hollande is an impossible act to follow.

May I start by thanking our COP 21 PresidentLaurent Fabius for his sustained effort taking this COP to a successful end. Having seen these COPs from inside the belly of the beast, I can tell you that this was the most tightly run COP ever in history. We thank you for that.

Most especially, I would like to thank my sister here Ambassador Laurence Tubiana, Emmanuel Guerin, Anne-Sophie Cerisola, Antoine Michon and all of the fantastic French team. Few people have any idea of the tireless, sleepless heavy lifting that this team has done so thank you so much for that.

Dear friends, it is my duty as the Executive Secretary of the Framework Convention to put this COP into a historical perspective.

This COP builds successfully on the work over the years of many government delegates, of many individuals, of many institutions – some of whom are here, most of whom are not.

When in 2010, government delegates agreed in Cancun to limit warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise – preferably less than 1.5 degrees – we established the direction of travel.

When in 2011 in Durban, we committed to develop together a new, universal climate change agreement by 2015, we established the clear timetable for our journey.

When in 2014, the Secretary-General convened his UN Climate Change Summit and hundreds of thousands of people marched in the streets of New York, it was then that we knew that we had the power of the people on our side.

When in Lima last year we launched the Nazca Portal and the Lima to Paris Action Agenda, it was then that we knew that the tsunami of action had become irreversible.  

And just last week, when more than 150 Heads of State and Government stood together in one place, under one roof for one cause – for the first time ever in history – it was then that we knew we had the political will to come to an agreement.

You have done so.

It is an agreement of conviction. It is an agreement of solidarity with the most vulnerable. It is an agreement of long-term vision, because it is an agreement of commitment to turn this new, legal framework into the engine of safe growth for all for the rest of this century.

It is an unequivocal clarion call to the world.

We started this COP commemorating those fallen in tragic deaths. We end this COP celebrating a new chapter of hope for the world.

I have been saying for a long time we must, we can… and I used to say we will. Today we can say we did.

Thank you all.

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