Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends committed to fighting climate change,
Let me start by thanking His Majesty, King Mohammed VI of Morocco, together with His Government, and in particular, Salaheddine Mezouar, who will shortly take over as President of COP22.
I would like to thank for your outstanding welcome here in Marrakech. Thank you also for lighting up Hassan Tower in Rabat on 4 November, in unison with the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Élysées.
Today, as COP22 opens, I feel both moved and filled with pride:
- moved, because I remember the first Earth Summit in Rio, 24 years ago, in which I participated as Environment Minister,
- and proud because I have wonderful news to share with you: today, on the fisrt day of COP22, 100 countries have now ratified the Paris Agreement.
Yes – we have made possible what was once thought to be impossible – through determination, perseverance, strength, and by never giving up.
This is truly a historic moment in the history of humanity.
I also appeal to the 93 countries that have not yet ratified the Agreement, to do so before the end of this year.
We can be proud of all the work that has already been accomplished, using this sound foundation to continue to build low-carbon strategies to lower global warming below 2 degrees, thus reducing the risk of disaster and other catastrophes that would result from blinkered inertia.
Today however, we are no longer blind to the risks!
But time is running out.
This past year was the hottest on record.
Glacier retreat is accelerating.
Desertification is causing untold damage.
Huge urban population density calls for new models of urban development.
Three key principles have guided my actions as COP21 President, under the aegis of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
- The need to take urgent action to tackle climate change.
- The need to develop effective strategies to manage climate change, because rising to this immense challenge is also an opportunity to re-invent a world that provides new green models of economic growth and jobs
- And, above all, the need for climate justice: the wealthiest countries live as if there are three planets. While the poorest countries live as if it is already too late for this one.
So I ask again for climate justice, especially for Africa.
This is the great challenge for COP22.
COP22 is a COP for Africa and that is its main priority and our hope.
In his speech last night in Dakar, King Mohammed VI appealed to us to make COP22 a success.
He clearly pointed out the priorities of the Moroccan Presidency, in particular to take account of the challenges facing Africa today, by providing access to financial resources and enabling technology transfer.
I directed all my energies towards the problems of this continent during my Presidency, and it has been the focus of my three reports to the UNSG.
- The African initiative for renewable energies through projects such as hydraulic, wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and marine energies.
- Women and the climate.
- Safety and the climate.
Climate change in Africa is both cruel and unjust. This continent suffers the most, through no fault of its own, from the disasters of desertification.
Of the 50 countries that suffer the most from the impact of global warming, 36 are in Sub-Saharan Africa.
By 2050, the population will double – reaching more than 2 billion people.
A race against time has now begun to ensure that the citizens of the African continent will have access to both light and electricity, of which 700 million people are currently deprived today.
This is why, as a symbolic gesture, I would like to offer this small solar lamp in the shape of Ethiopia’s national flower, which we will light together later – when Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, gives me the signal - to highlight the fact that the African continent has a right to light too.
The African Summit of Heads of State on 16 November – held on the initiative of King of Morocco and following on from the Heads of State summit hosted by the President of France at COP21 - will be a key event enabling the 10 billion dollars pledged to be put to constructive use through decisions made for Africans, by Africans.
Let me tell you a secret.
I have travelled extensively throughout Africa this year, a continent that I know very well and where I was in fact born.
Well, the African countries are among the most highly-mobilised, the most creative, and the most committed.
They are inventing tomorrow's world (the solar power station at Noor, for example) so as not to repeat the mistakes of those economies which are polluting and squandering our natural resources.
As I have passed through each country, everything I have seen and heard fills me with hope, gratitude and admiration.
And that is why, to conclude, I would also like to mention Wangari Matthai, a truly great Kenyan, Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the Green Belt Movement, a courageous woman, a fighting woman, a spokesperson for this great truth and ideal:
The battle for the environment and the struggle for women's rights are two aspects of the same cause.
I wanted to share with you the beautiful words spoken by this committed women when she received the Nobel Peace Prize, "In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground – a time when we have to overcome our fear and give hope to each other. That time is now.”
So please, let these words fully sink in today. Let us join forces and win the battle against climate change. I have faith in you.