UN Climate Speech / 11 Dec, 2017
Keynote Speech by Patricia Espinosa at Climate Finance Day

Speaking at the opening of the third edition of Climate Finance Day in Paris, France, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa highlighted the importance of accelerating finance for the low-emission transformation.

"Bringing the sustainable development agenda into business and investment decisions can open 12 trillion dollars in market opportunities by 2030. This is trillions of dollars just waiting for us if we invest in the vision that governments have agreed. A better life for billions of people. Millions of good jobs – all while protecting the one planet we share and rely on," she said.

See the full speech below:

Let me first thank Mr. Gérard Mestrallet for the welcoming remarks and – along with Minister Le Maire – for the invitation to join you today.

I must also thank Minister Hulot for his continued commitment, dedication to climate action and personal support for the UN Climate Change secretariat.

It is an honor to be here.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We meet today on the eve of the two-year anniversary of the adoption of the historic Paris Climate Change Agreement. Moreover, we are celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol.

In the two years since the adoption of Paris, there have been profound changes in the world.

We have seen incredible political will to act on commitments made here in Paris – today 170 nations have ratified the agreement.

We have seen unprecedented alignment with the agreement by businesses and investors driving the real economy… and by cities and regions representing more than a billion people.

At the same time, we have seen the impacts of climate change unfold before our eyes.

Each year since Paris has been named the hottest year on record… and this year may break the record again.

This year will also likely be remembered as one of the worst for climate-related disasters.

The human cost is heartbreaking. The economic cost is immense… And it is not just lives and livelihoods at risk.

Last year, floods in this city threatened irreplaceable and priceless artwork in the Louvre.

So we are in danger of losing some of the most treasured pieces of our human culture …

Everyone is vulnerable. Not just the 65 million people in small island states… all 7 billion people – each and every one of us, all societies and economies – are vulnerable.

The message is clear – we must act now.

We have a framework for action. It was put in place here in Paris. It has been strengthened by commitments from cities, regions, businesses, investors and institutions.

Governments ratified the Paris Agreement in record time – and made progress on the fine print at our recent COP 23 conference in Bonn.

By the end of 2018, governments will complete the Agreement’s work program.

Governments will have also completed a process –known as the Talanoa Dialogue – that is designed to launch the next phase of higher ambition.

This is great… but it is not enough.

Or will not be enough, if we don’t update and reset the global financial architecture – and make all development low-emission, resilient and sustainable.

This transformation represents the future of humanity… and there is no way we can justify the lack of action – the lack of progress – by so many.

Without financing this transformation, what we stand to lose is immense and immeasurable.

You can put a price tag on this year’s disasters – they have and it is huge. But you cannot put a price on a stable, secure and prosperous future.

That is the context in which we convene today.

A practical path forward for finance is needed. It builds trust among nations – and indeed all actors – that the world is moving together towards the vision of Paris.

Here we need to find answers to the most pressing questions. We also need actionable outcomes.

Now is the best time to reduce risk – and finding the right regulatory structure and transparency framework is the key to unlocking untold opportunity.

It is also crucial that we accelerate finance for the low-emission transformation. All investment and corporate strategy should move us in this direction.

We see some movement – in forward-thinking companies and green financial products…

But climate considerations must now be part of all private sector decisions.

We must also work together – in a collaborative and cooperative manner.

Public policy can do more than point the way… it can de-risk investment, mobilize more money and open new markets and opportunities.

Close cooperation is the critical path to bring these benefits to bear – which we see reflected in the process that delivered the Paris Agreement.

Climate Finance Day is just one example of cooperation mobilized as a result of our UN process.

The emphasis on finance in our process highlights its importance in delivering real results.

You have my word that the UN Climate Change Secretariat will continue to support all nations and give all stakeholders a voice.

Excellencies… Ladies and gentlemen…

Paris produced a vision of a prosperous, low-emission future rich with opportunity. We have a moral obligation – especially the developed world – to invest in this future.

This is the promise of Paris to every person alive today and to all the generations to come.

We do not need to keep talking about the why, the how, and the when… We need to actually do it. Now.

The risk of inaction is too great… And the rewards from acting now are proving to be great as well.

A recent report says that government action plans to meet their Paris Agreement contributions represent 3 trillion dollars in investment opportunities by 2030.

Bringing the sustainable development agenda into business and investment decisions can open 12 trillion dollars in market opportunities by 2030.

This is trillions of dollars just waiting for us if we invest in the vision that governments have agreed.

 A better life for billions of people. Millions of good jobs – all while protecting the one planet we share and rely on.

This is our opportunity – to collaborate and innovate… to deliver sustained, inclusive prosperity… to raise ambition and leave no one behind.

Together, we can make the most of this opportunity.

Thank you.