Observers, Statements

Ms. Patricia Espinosa – UNGA Event 2020

Ms. Patricia Espinosa – UNGA Event 2020


Ms. Patricia Espinosa

Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC

Source: Climate Vulnerable Forum

Ms. Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC

Climate Vulnerable Forum Leaders Event

October 7, 2020

YouTube Video of Speech

Good afternoon and thank you Prime Minister (H.E. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh) as well as the Global Center on Adaptation and the Secretariat of the Climate Vulnerable Forum.

Since 2016, the Forum has called for ambitious NDCs to maintain the 1.5°C goal that we fought for in Paris. But the Forum’s efforts didn’t stop there and continued through its 2018 Virtual Summit and the Madrid Ambition Drive for Survival1 initiative during COP25.

Likewise, we welcome and support the launch of your Midnight Survival Deadline Initiative for the Climate.

Despite significant obstacles in this challenging year, Parties must remain focused on the urgent need to honour their climate commitments and continue building ambition.

COVID-19 is changing lives, economies and businesses globally, but it has not changed our climate emergency.

This year’s land and sea temperatures are the second-highest on record. August also marked the 428th-consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th-century average.

Some saw a silver lining when emissions in early 2020 were significantly down…but they’re rising again.

Instead, hope lies elsewhere—that the convergence of these two global crises opens a window of opportunity not only to recover from a virus, but to build forward—to build cities and communities that are clean, green, healthy and prosperous for all.

In this, the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, we are reminded we already have the international multilateral framework in place to address these challenges and more.

It produced the 2015 Paris Agreement and 2030 Agenda; clear plans with specific deadlines and obligations.

But the power of these plans will not be unleashed unless commitments under them are fulfilled—and they have yet to be.

Meanwhile, close to 1.5 billion of the world’s most vulnerable people live precariously on the front lines of a worsening global climate crisis.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The climate regime exists on a basis of trust—trust that promises made are promises delivered; trust that support from industrialized nations is not charity, but collective self-interest; and trust that nations will continue to increase ambition over time and outline those plans boldly and unequivocally in Nationally-Determined Contributions.

At UN Climate Change, we’ve never wavered in our message that enhanced NDCs are due in 2020. Perhaps, if we had more time, we’d have more flexibility. But the luxury of time was squandered long ago.

We are now minutes to midnight.

Momentum however, is picking up. About a dozen nations have already submitted an enhanced NDC and many others have already indicated that they will take steps to submit before the end of the year.

We also note that the European Union is working on adopting a new emission reduction target and China is showing its leadership with respect to climate action as well.

This year’s deadline is vital: the next submission date for NDCs is five years away—at which point our window of opportunity may be closed.

The deadline is also important because only the countries submitting revised NDCs by December 31, 2020 will be included in February’s Synthesis Report. I outlined this in a letter to Parties in August.

2020 is important for another reason: advancing adaptation efforts.

Under the Paris Agreement, countries must plan and implement their adaptation efforts. National Adaptation Plans are designed for this purpose.

They are the only international adaptation process with comprehensive guidelines and with a funding mandate from the Green Climate Fund.

To demonstrate that adaptation is not being left behind this year, countries must finalize their Plans by the end of 2020.

Parties can also include adaptation in their NDCs as well.

Not only is it an opportunity to increase the visibility of adaptation efforts, but to show to the international community that work is being done to build a more resilient world.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Paris Agreement is a covenant of hope with the people of the world.

We call upon all Parties to fulfil their commitments under it and to submit enhanced NDCs by the end of 2020.

I would once again like to thank the Climate Vulnerable Forum for not only echoing this call but launching this initiative that will help us achieve our collective goals.

Thank you.


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