Ban Ki-moon cop21
Ban Ki-moon: History is calling. I urge you to answer with courage and vision.ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's full speech at the start of the COP21 Paris climate change talks.


Your Excellency Mr. François Hollande, President of France,

Distinguished Heads of State and Government,
Your Excellency Mr. Laurent Fabius, President of COP21,
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

You are here today to write the script for a new future. A future of hope and promise -- of increased prosperity, security and dignity for all. In September, you adopted an inspiring new sustainable development agenda with ambitious goals endorsed by all. You showed your commitment to act for the common good. It is now time to do so again.

More than 150 world leaders have come to Paris and are here together in one room, with one purpose. A political moment like this may not come again. We have never faced such a test. But neither have we encountered such great opportunity. You have the power to secure the well-being of this and succeeding generations.

I urge you to instruct your negotiators to choose the path of compromise and consensus. Bold climate action is in the national interest of every single country represented at this conference. The time for brinksmanship is over.

Let us build a durable climate regime with clear rules of the road that all countries can agree to follow. Paris must mark a turning point. We need the world to know that we are headed to a low-emissions, climate-resilient future, and that there is no going back. The national climate plans submitted by more than 180 countries cover close to 100 per cent of global emissions.

This is a good start. But we need to go much farther and much faster if we are to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius. The science is clear. Even a 2-degree rise will have serious consequences for food and water security, economic stability and international peace. That is why we need a universal, meaningful agreement here in Paris.

I see four criteria for success. First, the agreement must be durable. It must send a clear signal to markets that the low-emissions transformation of the global economy is inevitable, beneficial and already under way. It must provide a long-term vision that anchors the below-2-degrees-Celsius goal, and recognizes the imperative to strengthen resilience.

The world's Small Island Developing States have even less room to manoeuvre, and are desperately asking the world to keep temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. Second, the agreement must be dynamic. It must be able to accommodate changes in the global economy, and not have to be continually renegotiated.

Differentiation can and should be applied in a varied manner across the many elements of the agreement, in a way that does not undermine the integrity of the collective effort. The agreement must strike a balance between the leadership role of developed countries and the increasing responsibility of developing countries, in line with their capabilities and respective levels of development.

The third requirement for success is an agreement that embodies solidarity with the poor and most vulnerable. It must ensure sufficient and balanced adaptation and mitigation support for developing countries. Fourth, the agreement must be credible. Current ambition must be the floor, not the ceiling, for future efforts. Five-year cycles, beginning before 2020, are crucial.

All countries should agree to move towards quantified, economy-wide emission reduction targets over time, with flexibility for developing countries with limited capacity. Developed countries must keep their pledge to mobilize $100 billion dollars a year by 2020. This same amount should serve as the floor for post-2020 finance commitments. A new agreement must also include a single transparent framework for measuring, monitoring and reporting progress.

And countries with low capacity should receive flexibility and support so they can meet the requirements of this new system. Excellencies, This is a pivotal moment for the future of your countries, your people and our common home. You can no longer delay. Let me be clear: The fate of a Paris agreement rests with you.

We cannot afford indecision, half measures or merely gradual approaches. Our goal must be transformation. The transition has begun. Enlightened investors and innovative businesses are striving to create a climate-friendly economy. But they need your help in accelerating this essential shift. The peoples of the world are also on the move. They have taken to the streets, in cities and towns across the world, in a mass mobilization for change.

I met with several key civil society groups yesterday. It is clear to me that they have come to Paris filled with energy and emotion – and that they expect each and every one of you to show leadership equal to the test.

History is calling. I urge you to answer with courage and vision. Thank you.

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