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Remarks by the Secretary-General to plenary session of the European Parliament

4 October 2016

Strasbourg, France, 4 October 2016


Thank you for the privilege of once again addressing the distinguished members of the European Parliament.

I was not originally planning to come to Strasbourg but I diverted my travel to address you at this crucial time on the importance of Europe’s ratification of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. I deeply appreciate your leadership and engagement.

The European Union has a long and proud record of leadership on climate change, the defining challenge of our time.

As members of the European Union, your countries have demonstrated time and again that you not only recognize the seriousness of this threat, but you are also ready to seize the opportunities it brings for building more sustainable, competitive economies and stable, healthier societies.

From an early leadership role in the UN Framework Convention negotiations, to support for the Green Climate Fund and other funding mechanisms, to your own efforts in scaling up clean energy, European Union members have stood strong.

Today you have another opportunity to demonstrate global climate leadership.

I encourage you to build on your proud legacy, and to support the speedy ratification of the Paris Agreement.

This would allow the EU and its member states in a position to do so to deposit their ratification instruments at UN Headquarters in New York.

Such a swift embrace would be a remarkable achievement for any international agreement. It would be especially impressive for one that addresses one of the most complex, all-embracing issues of our time. In the past few weeks, we have seen tremendous momentum from all corners of the globe to bring the Paris Agreement to life this year.

Earlier this week, India formally joined the Agreement. Thirty-one countries joined the Agreement at a high-level event I hosted at the United Nations on September 21.

Earlier in September, the world’s two largest emitters, China and the United States, put their political support behind Paris and formally joined the Agreement.

I commend all of these governments for their vision and leadership.

This means we have crossed the first threshold for entry into force. As of today, 62 countries have joined.

I understand and respect the unique decision-making process of the EU. At the same time, I welcome the decision by the EU environment ministers on 30 September to act on a fast-track.

This will enable individual countries to send their ratifications directly to the United Nations.

I appeal to you to approve this fast track. We are on the verge of passing the 55 percent threshold. You now have an opportunity to make history by helping to lead the world to a better future.

I can think of no better way to secure the legacy of Paris than to have the Agreement enter into force in record time, backed by the support of the world’s most powerful economies and its most vulnerable countries.

Rapid entry into force would demonstrate anew Europe’s commitment to international cooperation, which is at the heart of the European Union’s identity.

It would spur the transformation to the low-carbon, high-opportunity, climate-resilient economy we need to keep global temperature increase well below 2 degrees.

And it would protect the world’s most vulnerable communities and help them adapt to inevitable climate impacts.

In the name of humanity and for the sake of future generations, I encourage you to support the speedy ratification of the Paris Agreement.

At a time of record heat, let us take historic action.

At a moment of divisions on many other challenges, let us show we are united on the biggest one of all.

This is our chance to set us on course towards a safer, more sustainable and more just future for all on a healthy planet.

Let us seize the moment and be true to the values and aims of our organizations.

Thank you for your long-time commitment to climate leadership.

As you may know, my mandate ends at the end of this year when I finish my tenure as Secretary-General.

It has been a great honour for me to serve this invaluable organization and to work closely with the European Union and European Parliament.

I take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude for all of the wholehearted support you have rendered to me and to the United Nations over the past ten years.

I sincerely hope that the European Union will continue to lead in supporting the noble mission of the United Nations for human rights, sustainable development and lasting peace in our world.

Thank you for your great leadership and your commitment.

Let us work together to build a better world for all.

Thank you.