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High-Level Event on Climate Change

New York, 29 June 2015


Statement by

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



Secretary-General of the United Nations Mr. Ban Ki-moon,

President of the UN General Assembly Mr. Sam K. Kutesa,

Honorable Heads of State and Government,

Distinguished Ministers,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am honored to join this distinguished group for the High-Level Discussion on Climate Change, and I thank President of the General Assembly, Mr. Sam Kutesa, for convening this important event.

I am grateful you are all here, for it is you who need to inject the necessary political impetus that takes us from good success in Paris to shining success in Paris.

In this moment, a climate change agreement is emerging in the Framework Convention negotiations. That agreement is applicable to all, but diverse in its application. In recognition of the many IMMEDIATE AND LASTING national level benefits of climate action, the global agreement is not punitive but rather enabling and facilitative in nature.

The agreement is meant to lead us all toward a low emissions, highly resilient global economy, through progression over time, recognizing initial national contributions as a baseline that will be improved upon regularly and reported transparently, as well as recognizing the increasing engagement and action of an exponentially growing number of stakeholders.

The agreement will be financially and technically supportive of developing countries, contributing to a safe development path that lifts populations out of poverty and opens opportunity even as countries adapt to the impacts already built in to the climate system.

While these contours of the agreement are emerging, we know there are still high level political challenges ahead. Your ability to overcome those challenges will determine the degree to which the Paris Agreement can indeed be beneficial for all.

There is no doubt that financing is the most crucial component yet to be clarified.   The Green Climate Fund is operational and will begin to make allocations this year but needs further capitalization.  Credible clarity must be provided on the pathway to the $100 billion per year, including special and urgent attention for LDCs and SIDS.

Furthermore, governments must determine how to respond to the urgent need for adaptation and the loss and damage that climate change will inevitably inflict, while at the same time charting the course of the long term direction toward climate neutrality that enables and does not inhibit economic and social development.

Distinguished ministers, the co-chairs will provide a more organized version of the text on July 24.  But let me assure you there are no surprises in that new version.  While much work still needs to be done by your delegations under your direction, the political challenges are abundantly clear.  Those political challenges require your direct and urgent engagement. There is much political will already being displayed.  But time is running out and we must now turn that political will into leadership.  Leadership to find the common ground, leadership to raise the collective ambition, leadership to answer the call of history.

Never before has it been so evident that we can address both climate change and sustainable development with the same measures.  This is your moment to ensure we create jobs, ensure energy access, safeguard food and water, improve health and protect economic and social stability.

This is your moment to deliver the benefits of safe global growth to your citizens now and for generations to come.

Dear Ministers, this is your moment.

Thank you.


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Please note: This is prepared text of the speech and may differ from the delivered version.

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