High-level closing of Global Climate Action
First Minister, 15 November 2017
United Nations Secretary General,
Good evening and bula vinaka
Two years ago, UN member states in Paris reached one of the most important international agreements of our time.
Our obligation now is to turn the ambitions of Paris into reality.
We remain some distance from doing that. The specific commitments made at Paris would result in global warming of well over 2 degrees Celsius.
That would make the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals unattainable.
It would bring rising ocean levels, more famine, a higher incidence of hurricanes and cyclones – and, almost certainly, a displacement of populations far beyond what we have seen from recent and current conflicts. It would be deeply damaging for all nations, and catastrophic for some.
So we must urgently make the specific pledges - and agree the operating manual - which enable us to limit global temperature increases to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and preferably below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
That doesn’t simply require impressive targets for the next two decades – it requires urgent action in the next two years.
And it requires all countries – developed countries especially - to contribute fair shares.
It is hugely to your credit, Prime Minister, that in creating your Talanoa dialogue, Fiji’s presidency has recognised the role that non-states can play – businesses, wider civic society, and of course cities and the regions and devolved governments that I speak on behalf of today.
My country, Scotland, is determined to lead by example.
We made a commitment 8 years ago to reduce our 2020 emissions by 42%. We are on course to meet that target, and are now proposing to increase our ambition for the years beyond. That includes coming to an early decision on when we will aim to reach net zero emissions.
Scotland works closely on climate change with partners around the world, from California to Malawi.
We also work with the UK Government. We welcome the strength of their commitment to the Paris Agreement.
However Scotland will go further where we can. We established a Climate Justice Fund and will establish a Just Transition Commission. We have recently set an earlier target than the UK for phasing out new diesel and petrol cars.
Scotland provides just one example of the contribution devolved governments can make.
In the last week the Bonn zone has heard from the Under2 coalition, the Frontline Cities and Islands initiative, the West African partnership for localising finance and many more.
When I arrived here, I was heartened to walk past the “We’re still in” zone established by US states and city governments. In total, more than 1000 different governments in 86 countries have made significant pledges. That is in addition to the 7,000 cities represented by the global covenant of mayors.
There is no doubt that devolved, regional and local governments are emerging as a powerful force for good in the fight against climate change.
We recognise the economic and social opportunities of a just transition to create new jobs; to protect our natural environment; and to tackle pollution and save lives.
But, above all else, we understand this - tackling climate change is an overwhelming moral obligation that we owe to this and future generations,
When Ban Ki-Moon addressed the Paris conference, he referred to climate change as “the defining challenge of our times”.
The message of cities, regions and devolved governments around the world to UN member states is this - our ambitions must live up to the scale of the challenge, and our actions must live up to our ambitions.
If they do, we will stand with you as proud partners. We will work with you to go further and faster together.
And we will help you create the coalition for action which is so essential to the wellbeing of all the peoples of all our nations.