16 Nov 2015 Speech Climate change

Beijing meeting on south-south cooperation on climate change

Your Excellency Minister Xie, Ladies and gentlemen - welcome! Let me start by thanking my colleague Janos Pasztor and the UNSG's Climate team and all of you for taking the time to be here - your participation is crucial to strengthening South-South Cooperation on climate change and sustainable development.

Today marks the birthday of the author Robert Louis Stevenson, some 165 years ago. When writing "Finding Treasure Island" he remarked that he: "could not look but with wonder and respect on the Chinese. Their forefathers watched the stars before mine had begun to keep pigs".

That ability to offer leadership in the way we see and interpret this world is as invaluable today as it was back then. And it is clearly evident in the work to build on the NDRC-UNEP agreement on South-South Cooperation on Climate Change during Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Kenya last year; the historic agreement on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September; and the announcements China made with France and the United States that set the tone for COP21 in just a few weeks' time.

These efforts are also a timely demonstration that China's global perspective remains as relevant as it is unique: not only by supporting this meeting at just the right moment to send a strong signal ahead of the Paris talks, but by launching the $3.1 billion China South-South Climate Cooperation Fund to support other developing countries to combat climate change, and the South-South Co-operation Assistance Fund that will invest some $12 billion in 600 developing country projects by 2030. UNEP is highly appreciative of the strong cooperation it has with China , which notably resulted in the establishment of three technical centers in China to share expertise on sustainable development, efficient lighting and ecosystem management with developing countries through South-South co-operation. One such center, the International Ecosystem Management Partnership (IEMP), generously hosted by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, is co-organising this meeting.

Another example is the UNEP and NDRC pilot project to promote Ecosystem-based Adaptation with Mauritania, Nepal and Seychelles and promote cooperation between Asia and Africa, which showcases how GEF and the UN can facilitate and promote South-South cooperation on climate change.

Concrete actions like this will be vital to delivering The Intended Nationally Determined Contribution targets submitted to UNFCCC ahead of Paris, including China's target of lowering CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by almost two thirds compared to 2005.

Unfortunately, as UNEP's Emissions Gap Report shows, fully implementing all of those targets will only deliver around half of the total emissions reduction required to reach 2030 levels likely to give us a chance of staying below the vital 2°C in 2100.

That means we need to make more progress using the kind of partnerships and best practice sharing we can see in both the South-South Co-operation and UNEP's work with the World Meteorological Organization and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to support evidence based policies and actions under UNFCCC; The UNDP and FAO to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation through REDD - including 60 southern nations; And the Climate Technology Centre and Network established under the UNFCCC and hosted by UNEP, to stimulate cooperation, development and transfer adapted to the needs and priorities of developing countries.

However, it is becoming clear that while many developing nations are at the sharp end of climate change impact, many are also moving to the forefront of sustainable solutions and economic development. Look at the incredible growth in renewable energy investment, which reached a record $270 billion in 2014. China led the way, but while global investment in clean energy was up by 17%, investment in developing countries was up by more than double that. Or what about trade between many Southern countries, many of which has already surpassed $100 billion a year (Africa-China >$200 billion/year)? This can only grow, given increased links with the Silk Road - or rather the green Silk Road, given the discussions around a "Community of Common Destiny" held in Hainan in March. Even technology leapfrogging, which has already seen China's efforts to replace over 150 million dirty old motorbikes with clean electric versions being echoed elsewhere. This has not only delivered rapid benefits for pollution and climate change, it has established best practice that several African countries are starting to follow and a fledgling green export industry.

Access to clean technologies, particularly for renewable energy is one of the most promising areas of South-South Cooperation. Look at the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative whose aim is to double access to renewable energy in the African continent by 2020, worth tens of billions of dollars of trade ! These are win-win-win situations, where poor countries will have access to needed energy, clean technologies will be used to combat climate change, and trade routes enhanced notably among countries of the Global South.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a still a $2.5 trillion financing gap to deliver the sustainable development goals across developing nations and a $1 trillion gap to deliver climate change solutions. A substantial redirection of existing investment will help, but we need much wider engagement from the private sector to close that gap and deliver lasting solutions.

Fortunately, the finance sector is starting to see that securing a healthy planet with healthy people can also create healthy profits. For example, the International Energy Agency has shown that the uptake of more economically viable energy efficiency investments could boost cumulative economic output by $18 trillion in the next 20 years. That's more than the combined economic output of the US, Canada and Mexico and difficult for even the most hardened climate skeptic to ignore.

Through the UNEP Finance Initiative and, more recently, the UNEP Inquiry into Design Options for a Sustainable Financial System, we have been working with hundreds of global financial institutions to better understand the interaction between environmental, social and financial performance.

This knowledge means we are better placed to help individual states maximize the return on public and private investment. For example, here in China we have worked with the People's Bank of China to create a task force of more than 100 members, which is now creating detailed execution plans for 14 ambitious proposals to green the financial system, exploring opportunities like bonds, tax reforms and emissions trading.

Ladies and gentlemen, neither emissions nor climate change recognize a compass. They can't tell north from south - east from west - rich from poor. So we need to share all of these experiences with anyone who can benefit or take them further. There is an urgent need to establish a Platform for Promoting South-South Cooperation on Climate Change to help mobilize global knowledge, technology, capacity and financial support to meet the needs of global south quickly and efficiently.

In fact, our friend Robert Louis Stevenson has a famous saying: "Don't judge each day by the harvest that you reap but by the seeds that you plant" I think that offers the perfect measure by which to judge our performance both at this gathering and in Paris: Will we just reap a few headlines in the media or will we plant meaningful seeds of change for our children and theirs?

I look forward to discovering the answer - thank you!