Sustainable Future Begins with Price Tag on Pollution

15 April 2016 | United Nations News Release

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the inaugural meeting of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, in Washington, D.C., today:

I thank President Jim Kim for inviting me to the inaugural assembly meeting of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition.  I commend all of you for your strong leadership on this issue.

Climate impacts threaten to roll back decades of development and prosperity.  Last December, more than 150 world leaders gathered in Paris and agreed on the urgent need to address the climate challenge head on.

The spirit of Paris lives on.  A week from today, on 22 April, more than 150 Governments will come to the United Nations to sign the Paris climate change agreement, thus taking the next step towards ensuring the Agreement enters into force as early as possible.

I am very encouraged by the tremendous global support from Governments for taking action on climate change.  It is essential that multilateral financial institutions and the private sector provide the policy instruments and resources needed to support the transformation to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy.

Markets must play a central role in managing climate risks.  We must put a price on pollution and provide incentives to accelerate a low-carbon pathway.  Market prices, market indices and investment portfolios can no longer continue to ignore the growing cost of unsustainable production and consumption behaviours on the health of our planet.

The Paris Agreement sends a powerful signal that the decarbonization of the global economy is inevitable, beneficial and already under way.  Global efforts to place a price on carbon are an important element of this transformation for three key reasons.

First, they underscore what the science tells us.  To prevent runaway climate change, the world must limit temperature increase to well below 2°C, and pursue efforts towards 1.5°C.

Second, by demanding that national climate plans become more ambitious over time, the Agreement creates a growing space for national and global markets to price externalities.  At the same time, it creates conditions for a deeper and harder look at fossil fuel subsidies.

Third, by institutionalizing a strong market-based mechanism, the Agreement ensures that emission reduction efforts must be aligned with the overall purpose and objectives of the Paris Agreement.

This inaugural assembly is an important step in consolidating the gains made in the Paris Agreement.  Within this Coalition, more than 22 Governments and jurisdictions and more than 90 corporations support and recognize the need for some form of carbon pricing as an important economic tool.  I am very encouraged to see that businesses see carbon pricing as an efficient, cost effective means of reducing emissions.

Momentum is building.  However, we must ensure the provision of timely and meaningful assistance to developing and vulnerable countries for their mitigation efforts.  Promises made must be kept.  Greater international cooperation is vital for building a low-carbon, climate-resilient world.

I welcome the growing momentum from business on carbon pricing.  You can count on the United Nations to support this effort.  The UN Global Compact Business Leadership Criteria on Carbon Pricing encourages companies to demonstrate good business practice and leadership in climate action.  The Compact also asks signatories to commit to setting an internal carbon price.

Since I launched this initiative two years ago, nearly 70 companies have stepped up to show their support.  At the United Nations, we look forward to working with the World Bank Group on carbon pricing.  The Global Compact stands ready to continue supporting the Coalition.

In addition to national action, further support from global policymakers can provide vital momentum to this process.  One important step would be progress on the G20 commitment to eliminate inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.

Additionally, managing climate-related risk is increasingly critical for investors, Governments and the public.  But, it cannot be done without effective disclosure of carbon risk.

I look forward to the report of the Financial Stability Boards Task Force on climate-related financial disclosures that is led by my Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, Michael Bloomberg.

Once again, thank you for your commitment and support to this vital issue.  I have no doubt that with your support, we will build a more sustainable world for all.


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