Honourable guests

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen

Our long wait is over.

It is with joy and enthusiasm that I officially welcome you to COP26.

I thank the outgoing COP Presidency of Chile — especially Minister Schmidt — for their leadership in the last two challenging years.

I also officially welcome the incoming UK Presidency and Minister Sharma. I thank you for your collaborative efforts and as we work to make COP26 a success.

To all of you I say this: congratulations. Congratulations to those in this room, those watching online and to everyone involved in this process.

Think back on the last two years since we last met in Madrid: the early confusion — the pandemic and what it could mean for our process. Think about the decisions we made together, the skills we developed together to take advantage of communication technologies!

Think also of those we lost to COVID-19 — our hearts are with those who continue to suffer.

But let us also acknowledge what we’ve accomplished: we have kept the process going, we have not let pandemic stand in the way of addressing the most critical issue facing this generation and those to come.

We are here because of you and your work. From the bottom of my heart — thank you.  

Let’s ensure that work was not in vain.

As Scottish poet Robert Burns once wrote: “now is the day, now is the hour”.

Colleagues;

We stand at a pivotal point in history.

Humanity faces several stark but clear choices.

We either choose to achieve rapid and large-scale reductions of emissions to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C— or we accept that humanity faces a bleak future on this planet.

We either choose to boost adaptation efforts to deal with current extreme weather disasters and build resilience to address future impacts — or we accept that more people will die, more families will suffer, and more economic harm will follow.

We either choose to recognize that business as usual isn’t worth the devastating price we’re paying and make the necessary transition to a more sustainable future — or we accept that we’re investing in our own extinction.

It is about much more than environment, it is about peace, stability and the institutions we have built to promote the wellbeing of all.

It is for these reasons and more that we must make progress here in Glasgow.

Colleagues;

Success at COP26 is entirely possible.

Success is possible because we have the platform for action.

The Paris Agreement is a covenant of hope with humanity.

It has everything we need to achieve our climate goals.

But to fully unleash its potential we need full implementation.

To get there, Parties must finalize outstanding work under the Agreement that has remained unfinished for far too long.

Every day that goes by without being able to implement the Paris Agreement in full is a wasted day — the accumulation of which have real-world repercussions for people throughout the world, especially the most vulnerable.

I call upon Parties to complete the necessary work here at COP26 that will move us towards full implementation.

Success is possible because we already know the pathway to solutions.

The recently-updated UN Climate Change NDC Synthesis Report showed that emissions continue to rise. That’s the bad news.

The good news is it also showed that for those nations providing a new and updated NDCs, emissions are projected to decrease by 2030.

But we need even more ambition and all nations on board, especially the highest emitters in the G20 responsible for around 80 per cent of global emissions.

We also need to see provision of support to developing nations — another cornerstone of the Paris Agreement. With adequate support, emissions reductions can potentially be higher.

This relates to the commitment to mobilize  $100 billion from developed nations to developing.

The delivery plan announced last week should be seen as a start, not the end. It’s important to follow through with more detail and concrete actions.

But let us be clear: without the necessary support we will not be able to embark on the transformations needed to achieve the 1.5-degree goal.

This is not only about the 100 billion. We need to mobilize the trillions.

With respect to adaptation, we need to significantly increase financial support, especially for the most vulnerable countries. We also need to accelerate the development and implementation of National Adaptation Plans.

A clear path to solutions exists.

I call upon all Parties to recapture the spirit of multilateralism that resulted in the adoption of the Paris Agreement and fulfill their commitments under it.

Success is possible because we have the science.

The data is unequivocal: climate change is widespread, rapid, intensifying and already impacting every region on Earth, both on land and in the oceans.

But one number stands out above all others. We must limit global temperature rise to 1.5C by the end of the century. The IPCC, the NDC Synthesis Report and the Emissions Gap Report all tell us, however, that we’re not on that path.

I call upon all Parties to use science to inform their decisions at COP26 and act upon it.

Studies and statistics tell one story, but we must look beyond the numbers to the human lives they represent.

I have been to the small island states threatened by rising waters. I’ve talked to school children frightened for their futures. I’ve talked to women who bear the burden of climate change at home but are shut out of the search for solutions the minute they walk out the door. I’ve talked to youth frustrated with what they see as a bleak future.

The message they all have in common is this: they want to be included. They are right.

If we are sincere in calling climate change a global issue, then total inclusion must be the foundation upon which this process is built.

COP26 needs to ensure that all voices and proposals are considered. I encourage the engagement of observers and other stakeholders and I call upon Parties to incorporate their ideas in the discussions here at COP26.

We are all facing the same climate emergency. We must all be part of the solution.

Colleagues;

The transition we need is beyond the scope, scale and speed of anything humanity has accomplished in the past.

It’s a daunting task, but humanity is a species defined by its ingenuity.

More than two centuries ago, the world was completely transformed by the Industrial Revolution.

It was an era driven by the technology and innovation of their day, but also one with the residual impacts of greater economic and social division, environmental damage and climate change.

We can and must learn the lessons of history.

Let ours be an era defined by the prosperity of the many, rather than the short-term gain of the few.

Let ours be an era in which we have healthier relationships with nature.

Let ours be an era in which we protect our land, oceans and biodiversity.

Let Glasgow be the starting point of this new era — this new Age of Resilience — and let COP26 mark its beginning.

It’s entirely within our grasp. But getting there depends on the completion of our work here. It depends on the full implementation of the Paris Agreement. It depends on more climate action. It depends on you. It depends on all of us.

Colleagues

The task ahead of you in these two weeks is significant.

But look at what you’ve accomplished just to get this far.

Success is entirely possible.

I encourage you to keep the big picture in mind.

I encourage you to look beyond your specific agenda item to what we’re trying to achieve together.

I encourage you to consider the choices that we must make, and the trust vested in you by billions.  

Let us rise to the enormous challenge of our times, this pivotal point in history — and achieve success for not just our present generation, but all generations to come.

Thank you.

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