At G20 in China, Ban stresses 'far-reaching' impacts of early climate action, urges unity on Global Goals

Commending the US and China for ratifying the Paris Agreement, Ban says major steps forward on climate change and sustainability have been taken at the summit.

At a G20 summit in the southeastern city of Hangzhou in China, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the conference’s focus on sustainable development and climate change, urging all countries to take early action on these.

“For the first time in the history of the G20, the Hangzhou draft communiqué is now focusing on this Sustainable Development Action Agenda as one of their most important [aspects of] the outcome document,” the UN chief said at a press conference, ahead of the summit’s opening.

“Climate change and Sustainable Development Goals should go hand in hand. That is not my message – that is the message of all scientists, economists and all experts,” he added, stressing that “early action will bring more and more, and better and better results.”

Last September, the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a new global framework to advance peace and prosperity for all people and for a healthy planet.

“I urge all countries to align their national policies, socio-economic policies, programmes and investment behind these Sustainable Development Goals,” Mr. Ban said at today’s press conference.

Climate change and Sustainable Development Goals should go hand in hand. That is not my message – that is the message of all scientists, economists and all experts.

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General, United Nations

The Paris Agreement, adopted by 195 parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) last December in France, calls on countries to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future. The agreement will enter into force 30 days after at least 55 countries, accounting for 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, deposit their instruments of ratification or acceptance with the Secretary-General.

“This Summit has also witnessed major steps forward on climate change,” Mr. Ban said, commending the leaders of China and the United States for officially joining the Paris climate accord by depositing their legal documents with him yesterday.

With the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters making this historic step, 26 parties to the Paris Agreement and 39 per cent of global greenhouse emissions have been accounted for. Another 29 countries and 16 per cent more of global emissions will bring the convention into force.

To the so-called climate change deniers or skeptics, he said, “the debate over the climate phenomenon is over, scientifically and environmentally: it is affecting our daily lives.”

“In that regard, the actions taken by early ‘ratifiers’ like China and the United States – those are the two biggest emitters – are far-reaching, visionary. They are working for the people, they are working for planet earth,” he said.

Mr. Ban said he was “happy to hear that the draft communiqué of this G20 Summit is also encouraging the speedy entry into force of this key international agreement and I would like to [urge] G20 members, once again, to lead by example on this defining issue of climate change,” drawing attention to a high-level ratification ceremony at the UN Headquarters in New York he is convening on 21 September.

Legal processes must be concluded in parallel with a renewed commitment by all the countries to honour their pledges, particularly the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Member States, in terms of financial and technical support, including through the Green Climate Fund to many vulnerable countries, developing countries so that they can adjust to climate change, Mr. Ban added.

“Here in Hangzhou, I will engage G20 leaders across the breadth of the Summit’s agenda,” he said, emphasising that the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals requires resolving urgent challenges, such as protracted conflicts in Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, Libya, Mali and many other places, extreme poverty and deepening inequalities, and the highest number of people displaced by conflict since the end of the Second World War.

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