New York –  The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) welcomed a landmark speech by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, in which he said that climate change is “the defining issue of our time – and we are at a defining moment”.

In remarks to an audience of young people, business leaders, diplomats and journalists on the eve of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco and the annual gathering of world leaders for the General Assembly this month, the Secretary-General said, “we face a direct existential threat” and that “climate change is moving faster than we are”.

The Secretary-General also called for greater ambition and leadership on climate change: “What we still lack – even after the Paris Agreement – is leadership and the ambition to do what is needed.”

“The danger signs are all around us. We have seen carbon emissions reach 32.5 gigatonnes in 2017, an historic high. We have seen the world’s average surface temperature rise 0.6 to 0.9 degrees Celsius in the century leading up to 2005, and we know they will rise further. And 17 of the last 18 warmest years have occurred since 2000,” Steiner said.

“These are not just interesting statistics. Climate change is having a profound and disruptive impact on the people of the world, especially those who are among our most vulnerable citizens. In Kerala, India, we have just seen a million people displaced due to the heaviest rains in nearly a century. Last year, more than 15 million people were declared food insecure due to drought in the Horn of Africa, and I write this as the United States braces itself for and ‘extremely dangerous’ hurricane approaching the East Coast,” he added.

“For those who say the climate challenge is too great or too expensive to tackle, I disagree. Taking action on climate presents us with an enormous opportunity to create jobs, save money on energy, boost food production, and breathe clean air.”

Steiner noted that San Francisco’s Global Climate Action Summit, being held this week, will showcase where ambitious action is already being done, and issue a Call to Global Climate Action urging national governments to join forces with subnational, business, investors and civil society, requesting that countries raise their ambitions on climate change now.

The Secretary-General will convene a Climate Summit in September 2019.

UNDP supports a climate portfolio of $3 billion supporting climate action in over 140 countries with over 700 climate projects globally.

Examples of UNDP’s work:

  • In Egypt, about 20 per cent of the Nile Delta, and more than 6 million people, is at risk from rising sea levels and increased intensity of climatic disasters. UNDP is helping partners put in place new coastal infrastructure to defend communities and agriculture fields, alongside enhanced early warning systems and integrated coastal zone management policies and plans.

  • In Trinidad & Tobago, UNDP is working to support a national conversion program to CNG (compressed natural gas) for the transport sector, which results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions, is less expensive, and increases availability of fuel for export.

  • UNDP is assisting governments in de-risking renewable energy by putting in place the necessary policies to attract capital at scale.  In Armenia, $20 million in Green Climate Fund grant financing is being used to create a favourable market environment and a scalable business model for investment in energy-efficient building retrofits. This is expected to catalyze private and public sector investment of approximately $100 million, directly benefiting over 200,000 people.

  • UNDP and WMO are collaborating with the Word Bank and other partners to scale up support for strengthening early warning and climate information systems across a number of countries in Africa, with financing from the Green Climate Fund (GCF). This work focuses on ensuring climate information is generated, disseminated and used to build resilience to climate-related impacts.  This scaling-up support builds on UNDP’s successful experience supporting 11 African countries with financing from the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and other partners.

  • In Indonesia, UNDP is supporting issuance of a $1.25 billion Islamic green bond, or Sukuk, making this the first country to issue a sovereign bond exclusively aimed to fund climate change in a manner that is compliant with Islamic law. The proceeds will be allocated to climate or environment-related projects that contribute to climate action and the preservation of biodiversity. This green sukuk is a critical tool for the Government in its commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 29 percent by 2030 and for renewable energy to make up one-quarter of its energy mix by 2025, up from around 12 percent today.

  • More than 48 countries are being supported on country-led planning and preparedness for climate change adaptation (National Adaptation Plan processes), through the largest coalition among UN agencies including UNDP, UNEP, WHO, FAO, UNITAR, UNFCCC and UNISDR and other key partners.

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