Sustainable Development Goals
Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Patricia Espinosa’s opening remarks at Business and Climate Summit in New Delhi on 31 August 2017.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me start by thanking the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and all the organizing partners of this year’s Business & Climate Summit.
Summits such as this are invaluable in driving greater climate action.
In the run up to the Paris Agreement and since it was adopted, support from the business and investor communities has helped build political confidence, and 160 countries have now ratified the Paris Climate Change Agreement. This is a remarkable achievement for a multilateral agreement in such a short time. Less than two years!
So I thank you all for your support.
I must also thank my fellow speakers.
Minister Seruiratu, your work as a climate change champion has advanced the Global Climate Action agenda and prepared the ground for announcements at this year’s UN climate conference that will show continued, real-world momentum.
And Minister Vardhan, your work in Environment, Forest and Climate is inspiring. News of climate change progress in India this year has been impressive – a sign of hope that the world can indeed overachieve on our targets.
International cooperation, rising action in the world of business and investment and the political will to strive for ambitious national targets are key to success for the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the wider UN sustainable development agenda. Recognise the leadership by France and intervention by partners that have made this event possible.
Recognise the leadership by France and intervention by partners that have made this event possible.
We live in a time that presents us with only two choices – either we fail to meet an existential climate threat to all human civilization, or we take the open pathways that will establish the course of sustainable human development for good.
The threat is advancing.
Last year was again the hottest on record – the third year in a row that the authoritative report from NASA has conveyed this news, the third time this summit has met under these circumstances.
This trend cannot continue if we are to meet Paris’s main objective. Limiting global warming to as close to 1.5 degrees as possible is imperative for all, and essential for many to avoid the worst and most immediate impacts in the developing and developed world.
Just look here in India, right now, especially in Mumbai and across Asia from Bangladesh to Nepal to China… and you see the increasingly massive human and economic losses from flooding. In the United States, many communities in Texas have suffered loss of lives and livelihoods unprecedented extreme weather events. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends who have lost their loved ones in all those countries.
And we are already losing islands to sea-level rise, a fact that is in sharp focus now as Fiji prepares to assume the presidency of COP 23 in Bonn.
This is the planetary context – and the scientific and moral imperative – in which this summit opens. And while it is crucial to recognize what makes the need for action so urgent, we also must recognize what makes this moment so exciting.
This is a moment of great opportunity for societies, economies and politics and business of every kind.
This is a moment where the priorities of planet, people and profitable action coincide to defend against disastrous climate change and achieve truly sustainable development.
This is a moment when countries have reached a universal climate change agreement and made it immediately actionable with a global set of national climate plans to reduce emissions and adapt to coming impacts.
This is what is offered to you here – the moment to capitalize on this opportunity.
But it is also a moment to know how you can open up the opportunities even further by helping governments understand clearly your needs, as they are now in the process of negotiating completion of two parts of the Paris Agreement.
In November, at the annual COP23 UN climate change conference in Bonn, governments will work on the operating manual of the Paris Agreement – the guidelines and procedures that govern how it works – to complete it next year.
In addition, Governments want to examine ways to measure progress to limit global temperature rise under the Paris Agreement, they make the first assessment of progress in 2018.
These are not dry technical issues for you because the decisions must eventually help you to take even faster climate action, to show what you have done and to be rewarded for it by your customers and in the marketplace.
Parties will also address progress achieved so far in the support that developed countries should provide for the developing world, particularly on capacity building, transfer of technology and financing.
For example, it is about reporting real-world emissions, accounting and being accountable for action taken, assessing and drawing conclusions from global data and redirecting resources and money to greater effort.
This year must be a stride forward on these two issues.
To take a significant step, India – and all other major players in the global economy –must collaborate with the private sector to determine what must be done to accelerate the low-emission transition and deep transformation.
It is in everyone’s best interest to have this work finalized as soon as possible. Our best case scenario is clear and robust guidelines. The business community needs them. Your government needs them. Other countries need them to support countries like India, and open access to finance and technology and build capacity for action as quickly as possible.
COP23 is also shaping up to give us something more, which is why your summit today must be an ‘action summit’ in deeds as well as words.
To build even greater confidence that climate action momentum is real, we need more announcements that business and investment is transforming in line with agreed climate and sustainability goals.
These announcements are coming from key players in key sectors around the world. I know more is being done. Don’t be shy in saying it.
In fact, in the past year, India has given us some great examples of this.
At COP22 in Marrakesh, Dalmia Cement announced that they are joining RE 100, which is the global initiative for companies committed to 100 percent renewable power. This was excellent news from the heavy infrastructure industry.
In January, Tata Motors – also an RE 100 member – announced that they will reveal their first electric car and electric bus. This is crucial for cleaner, greener transport, which improves air quality and public health in large cities.
And just a couple of months ago, India was named the second-most attractive country for renewable energy investment. Ambitious targets plus policy certainty – along with falling costs and advances in storage technology – are attracting investors and driving the renewables revolution.
These success stories are part of a global trend towards accepting that climate action is the soundest strategy for the private sector.
Meanwhile, emerging, innovative technology is emerging as an ‘x-factor’ that reduces emissions in sectors such as transport, energy and agriculture – and it builds resilience by enabling communities and economies to adapt to climate impacts.
The bottom line is – climate action makes business sense.
The only question that remains is – how do we maintain this momentum and accelerate action even further? How do we achieve complete transformation?
There is no one answer because everyone has a role to play.
Policymakers and private sector must work together to implement country-level policies that meet their contributions to the Paris Agreement and sustainability goals.
Leaders in investment and in every industry need to assess the path forward to their own prosperous low-emission future. At this summit, I encourage you all to determine your next step down that path.
And please, make your own positive announcement during COP 23 in November – either at the conference if you are going to be there or online or on social media. The world will be watching.
Tell us at UN Climate Change when you do and we will help you amplify your message to show that the momentum towards transformation is real.
We will show that the promise of Paris – a stable, secure world where peace and prosperity flourish and opportunity is open to all – is within our reach.
Through concerted and collaborative action, together we can deliver this promise and a better, more sustainable future to people in India and all nations.
About Patricia Espinosa Cantellano:
Ms. Espinosa Cantellano has more than 30 years of experience at highest levels in international relations, specializing in climate change, global governance, sustainable development and protection of human rights. Since 2012, she has been serving as Ambassador of Mexico to Germany, a position she also held from 2001 to 2002. She previously served as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico from 2006 to 2012.