Today, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, spoke at the International Post Corporation’s 2019 Annual Conference underlining the importance of the global postal sector’s sustainability efforts to achieve the common goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.
She called for boosting the sector’s ambitions to address climate change as a part of the collective action of all segments of society. “Addressing climate change and making the transition to a low-emissions future is both the moral and ethical thing to do, and it also represents our only opportunity,” she said.
Read the full speech here:
I’d like to begin by first congratulating Frank Appel and his team at Deutsche Post for hosting this important conference.
We have worked with Deutsche Post during our COP conferences—most recently COP23—and we are very good neighbours as our offices are just down the street.
I also want to recognize all IPC member groups who, early on, not only acknowledged the critical risk that climate change poses for us all, but you did something about it. You took action.
As we just heard from your colleagues, you set emission reduction target goals and met them ahead of schedule.
The fact that your EMMS (Environmental Measurement and Monitoring System) with its initial 2020 target to reduce emissions by 20 per cent, was met six years early is a success story.
In a world where we are urging nations to simply complete work they promised years ago, it’s good to have an example of people who stated what they would achieve, and then achieved it – ahead of time. I therefore encourage you to come to COP25 at the end of the year to not only spread the good news and share this success, but influence others to do the same. Again, congratulations.
Today, I’m here with one simple message: please keep it going. We need it. In fact, we’ve never needed it more urgently.
I understand you’re currently examining a further 20 per cent reduction by 2025. In no uncertain terms, I urge you to do that.
Why Is This So Important
One thing is beyond debate: never have we been so certain that climate change presents a clear and present danger to life on this planet. Never have we had more science to support it. Never have we had more visible proof.
Almost on a daily basis we read about the devastating impact of climate change around the world. About how devastating fires and floods, droughts and de-forestation are tearing apart communities and countries.
Each headline seems more alarming than the last.
It was just a few weeks ago that we learned of two more pieces of disturbing environmental news. Specifically, that:
- The largest ice shelf in the Antarctic is now melting 10 times faster than the overall ice shelf average – due to solar heating of the surrounding ocean surface.
- And that 1 million species are now at risk of extinction.
The truth is this: the eco-systems that sustain life are not just under threat of dying in some ill-defined future—some are dying right now before our very eyes.
Others are at grave risk. And we don’t know exactly where the tipping point is yet, we know it’s close. And we know if we reach it, there is no turning back.
This is nothing less than a call to urgent action. What this action must achieve is clear. The recent IPCC Special Report stated that to stabilize global warming at 1.5 degrees, global emissions must be cut in half by 2030. Then, net-zero by 2050.
But that’s not the path we’re currently on. Not by a long shot.
Current Nationally-Determined Contributions—what each nation pledges to do under the Paris Agreement, don’t get us anywhere near 1.5 degrees. According to the most recent estimates we have, nations are on pace to roughly double it.
That is an invitation to disaster, destruction and misery throughout the world.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The future is not written in stone. And we cannot give in to despair or fear.
We still have an opportunity to turn things around. It will take not just the commitments of national governments, but also the combined efforts of all segments of society. And it must be done quickly and multilaterally.
Both 2019 and 2020 provide an opportunity to change course.
There are two crucial years with two crucial tasks. First, making the Paris Agreement fully operational. Second, ensuring that the next round of Nationally-Determined Contributions result in greater commitments to climate action.
So, while I am here to urge you to boost your own action as part of our collective efforts to address climate change, we also need your help letting political leaders know they must boost those NDCs—they must submit either new or revised ones by 2020, making the next two years very important.
We are aware that this is not an easy task—it entails complicated consensus-building at national and regional level, taking into account specific social, economic and political realities.
But we must be clear that these efforts are for the good of all people. At our current trends, we all loose. Making the transition to low-carbon societies opens great opportunities to all.
But the window is closing quickly. Addressing climate change and making the transition to a low-emissions future is both the moral and ethical thing to do, and it also represents our only opportunity.
At the same time, this is an opportunity that will fundamentally shift the 21st century economy. It is already happening. We are witnessing a groundswell of climate action from businesses, investors, cities and regions throughout the world.
UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa tests a new DHL’s zero-emission postal vehicle
The embrace of electric vehicle use is just one example. I mention this since IPC members are taking a leadership role in using this technology. Deutsche Post alone operates the largest electric fleet in Germany, and I know your colleagues from around the world are finding their own use of electric vehicles an economically attractive investment.
The significant rise in renewable energy production is another example where individual sectors are taking more specific action.
In fact, more than 320 investors throughout the world with more than $33 trillion in assets are engaging companies on improving governance, curbing emissions and strengthening climate-related financial disclosures.
The financial implications of moving towards a green economy are striking. But let’s talk numbers. Transitioning to a low emissions sustainable growth path could, by 2030, lead to:
- Direct economic gains of $26 trillion;
- More than 65 million new low-carbonjobs; and
- An estimated $ 2.8 trillion in government revenues through subsidy reform and carbon pricing alone.
It’s clear—combatting climate change is in our collective best interests. Environmentally and economically.
But it bears repeating, again and again, we are nowhere near reaching our targets. Especially our NDC targets.
Everyone, particularly governments, have to fulfill their commitments to take action and put their money to work. But we need your corporate voices too – to sound the alarm.
I would once again like to congratulate the IPC for it’s forward-thinking and action with respect to setting and meeting its targets.
I urge you to continue playing this vital leadership role on the world stage.
I also encourage you to follow-through on your plans to expand beyond carbon management to encompass broader sustainability goals.
I understand this will be done by establishing best practices and by aligning business strategies in keeping with key UN Sustainable Development Goals.
This is very important as climate change is not only one of the SDGs, it impacts almost all the others.
So, by evolving your sustainability initiatives and strategies in a way that can support and advance the objectives of the UN, your sector will continue to have a tremendous positive impact on society and the environment.
Ladies and gentlemen, you are leaders. Keep leading. Your continuing leadership role will be a critical beacon for other sectors to follow.
I’m going to end with a quote from Mr. (Frank) Appel’s company blog entry from 2017.
He said, “If companies can join forces and tackle the global climate problem with focus and determination, then an emissions-free future becomes not just a Utopian vision, but a very real possibility.”
Ladies and gentlemen, let me assure you: the possibility is real.
We have the potential. We have the process. We have the Paris Agreement.
What we need is your continued leadership, support and determination. I urge you to be as bold and ambitious as possible. The world has never needed it more.
People throughout the world—especially young people—are angry and looking for action and results. Let’s show we can all do it together.