(Paris, 7 December 2015) The High-Level, ministerial segment of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris kicked off today with calls to action to conclude an effective climate change agreement at the end of the week and a sense of confidence that this can be done.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reminded Ministers of the direction that more than 150 world leaders had provided on the first day of the meeting, and that they had pledged their full support for a robust agreement. "Never before have so many Heads of State and Government gathered in one place at one time with one common purpose. Leaders have assured me they will work to remove any roadblocks," he said.
Ban Ki-moon said that hundreds of mayors from around the world had also come to Paris to lend their support and make their city climate action announcements, along with hundreds of business leaders and investors representing trillions of dollars in assets.
In her address, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres spoke of the unprecedented number of over 180 national climate action plans submitted ahead of the Paris meeting and which constitute a clear signal to the world. She said: "The challenge we face now is to crystalize that call into a cohesive legal framework that brings the world together in action and implementation."
Ms. Figueres also spoke of the groundswell of climate action being highlighted in a plethora of activities during the first week of the COP under the Lima-Paris Action Agenda.
“Commitments have given way to real action on the part of investors, corporations, provincial and city governments, and from civil society as a whole,” she said
Mogens Lykketoft, President of the UN General Assembly, said that whilst the year 2015 was all about reaching agreements, the year 2016 would be about their swift implementation. He said he would be organizing an event in New York in April to help realize the Sustainable Development Goals agreed this year. The meeting, including government and civil society, would spark many new initiatives.
This follows last week's announcement by the UN Secretary General of an event in Washington, in May, to accelerate cooperative climate initiatives.
Mr Lykketoft, however, cautioned that a robust universal climate agreement in Paris was an essential foundation for the world to avoid crossing the threshold of a maximum two degrees Celsius global average temperature rise, agreed by governments to be the defense line against unmanageable climate change. "Without your leadership, no amount of collaborative initiatives will suffice," he said.