Opening Remarks by Mr. Haoliang Xu,
UNDP Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific,
27 September 2018
Conference Room 11
Your Excellency, Foreign Minister Tsogtbaatar Damdin
Excellencies Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for the opportunity to speak at such a unique and exciting event. As Heads of States and Governments from around the world gather in New York this week to discuss the world’s most pressing issues, it is important to remember how these global issues are impacting the every day reality of individuals. Tonight’s film, Blue Gold, brilliantly illustrates this reality but also fills us with hope; the solution to the climate problem is in our hands.
As the United Nations Secretary-General said in a recent speech, "climate change is the defining issue of our time, and we are at a defining moment.” The impacts of climate change are already being seen around the world. In 2017 alone, we saw a devastating hurricane season in the Caribbean causing $215 billion of losses, the highest on record, particularly severe droughts in the Horn of Africa, where more than 15 million people were declared food insecure. Yet we also see investment in adaptation that not only builds resilience to these impacts but also helps pull people out of poverty, enhance food security, and restore ecosystems.
We know that the world needs more urgent and ambitious action to mitigate global greenhouse gases. The goal set by the Paris Agreement in 2015, to keep global warming well below 2oC, and pursuing 1.5oC, is looming. The planet’s average temperature has already risen almost 0.9oC since the late 19th Century. Current climate pledges under the Paris Agreement (or Nationally Determined Contributions) cover only one third of the emission reductions needed to keep the planet from getting 2°C hotter. We know solutions do exist, and are already being demonstrated in many parts of the world. New research has already shown the development opportunities of taking climate action – triggering at least $26 trillion in economic benefits by 2030, with the energy sector alone creating around 18 million more jobs globally by 2030. At UNDP, we are seeing this first hand through our support on climate action in 145 countries around the world.
In a country like Mongolia, shifting away from fossil fuels will have even more diverse development impacts. As one of the world’ largest exporters of coal, the economy relies on coal just as its inhabitants are dependent on it for their heating and cooking. This situation has the potential to spiral deeper unless the cycle is broken. And this is what the Mongolian Government is doing. It is introducing energy efficiency into high-intensive sectors such as power, heat and construction, and capitalizing on the country’s renewable energy potential. UNDP has been working with the Government to facilitate the market transformation for energy efficiency in the construction sector by removing barriers to increased adoption of energy efficient technologies.
Mongolia is actively taking steps in its fight against climate change, supporting the targets set out in its Nationally Determined Contribution – to reduce 14% of its total greenhouse gas emissions and reduce vulnerability in a number of priority sectors. Meeting these targets will directly contribute to the world’s effort to achieve the Paris Agreement, as well as the Sustainable Development Goals set out in the 2030 Agenda.
I hope the film we will watch together tonight, and the discussion that follows, will shed some light on the complex reality of addressing climate change in one of the most vulnerable countries of the world. I hope it will also present an optimistic picture, demonstrating that climate action is happening, opportunities exist, and with the right leadership, investment, and political will, we will be able to take the urgent and ambitious action needed to address this complex challenge together.