The following remarks were delivered by Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, at “America’s Pledge” Event at COP23 in Bonn, Germany on Nov. 11, 2017. In this speech the Executive Secretary committed to forwarding the submission to the COP and asked non-state actors to increase their commitment to addressing climate change.
What an incredible turnout...thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today.
I’d also like to thank Michael Bloomberg and Governor Jerry Brown for organizing this event, and for submitting this pledge on behalf of all of you.
We welcome it, and I will certainly bring it forward to the attention of the Parties here in Bonn.
This range of climate-related actions by U.S. cities, states, businesses and universities, shows a deep commitment by so many of you to addressing climate change.
This commitment is crucial.
We meet here in Bonn with a great sense of urgency.
Millions of people around the world are being hit by a steady stream of extreme weather events.
The United States has felt this suffering.
It has felt the devastating impacts of hurricanes, the destructive nature of wildfires and the dangers of both drought and flooding.
The message cannot get any clearer: we no longer have the luxury of time. We must act now.
And Bonn must be the launch pad towards the next, higher level of ambition.
While this remains a country-driven process, we require the participation of all people to meet our climate challenge.
Every level of society, every community, and every sector of every economy must be involved.
What’s impressive about your submission is that it not only includes these groups; it’s driven by those groups.
At its heart, it’s a submission from people who care—who care about addressing climate change…who care about building a world that is more sustainable…and who care about meeting the goals agreed to in the Paris Agreement.
This is reflected in the scope of action being taken throughout the United States.
For example, several US states have set their own targets for cutting carbon dioxide.
American businesses, many of whom are here today, are also taking significant action.
Large businesses such as Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Wal-Mart are directly buying renewable power and are committed to sticking with it in the future.
But so are other businesses as well. More than 1,000 businesses across the U.S. have pledged to meet—and in many cases, exceed—the Paris Agreement’s commitment to limiting global temperature rise to under 2-degrees Celsius.
These are only a few examples of the incredible amount of work happening at the subnational level in the United States.
And because US businesses are so well represented around the world, that work is echoed beyond its borders.
UN Climate Change recognizes and values the role of all non-state actors in the climate change process.
Because it’s through these groups that citizens are most directly connected to their governments.
But, ladies and gentlemen, signatories to this pledge recognize the value of something else: opportunity.
Yes, they recognize an opportunity to build a world that is cleaner, greener and more prosperous for all.
But they also, in the words of Bob Dylan, understand which way the wind blows.
They understand that when it comes to clean technology and renewable energy, we are standing at the edge of something truly special.
Just as the Information Age ushered in an explosive new economy, I believe the next age—perhaps we can call it the Age of Renewal—will do the same.
The leaders of tomorrow will be the nations, the businesses, the groups, and the people who help usher it in.
They understand that we can open trillions in economic opportunity—$12 trillion or more by some estimates.
And we can do so while lifting people out of poverty, promoting public health, ensuring access to food, water and energy, and protecting the planet we all share and rely on.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for this pledge.
I thank you for your ambition, your work, and for your dedication to a future that is clean, green and prosperous for all.
Please note: This is the prepared text of the speech and may differ from the delivered version.