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Climate action an opportunity to forge peaceful, sustainable future, says Guterres

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in New York on Tuesday, May 30, 2017 issued a call to action to meet the climate challenge.

Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General

Speaking to students, business leaders and academics at the New York University Stern School of Business, Mr. Guterres described both the increasing risks from climate change and the compelling opportunities provided by climate action to create jobs, generate economic growth and build the foundations for a safer and more stable world.

“The effects of climate change are dangerous and they are accelerating,” he said. “It is absolutely essential that the world implements the Paris Agreement – and that we fulfil that duty with increased ambition.”

Mr. Guterres stressed that climate action is already under way, and that countries and companies that are involved would reap the rewards.

“Thousands of private corporations, including major oil and gas companies, are taking their own action”, Mr. Guterres said. “They know that green business is good business.  It is not just the right thing to do; it is the smart thing to do.”

“The sustainability train has left the station. Get on board or get left behind. Those who fail to bet on the green economy will be living in a grey future. “Those who embrace green technologies will set the gold standard for economic leadership in the 21st century.”

Mr. Guterres laid out a five-point action plan to mobilise the world behind climate action.

  • First, intensified political engagement to raise the bar on efforts to limit temperature rise to well below 2 degrees and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees.
  • Second, stronger, integrated support by the entire United Nations development system for Governments as they strive to meet climate commitments and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Third, engagement with Governments and major actors, including the coal, oil and gas industries, to accelerate the global transition to sustainable energy.
  • Fourth, heightened efforts to mobilize national and international resources for adaptation, resilience, and the implementation of national climate action plans.
  • Fifth, new and strengthened partnerships, including with the private sector and through North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation.

The Secretary-General said he intends to convene a climate summit in 2019 and is strongly committed to working with all governments and partners to bridge divergent views and forge a shared vision of the way forward to address climate change – an unprecedented threat but also an an unparallelled opportunity.

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