This article is published in collaboration with Reuters.
Some 150 world leaders from U.S. President Barack Obama to Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga of Tuvalu gathered in Paris on Monday to open a summit meant to secure the world’s most ambitious pact on climate change.
The full list of speakers is available here: http://unfccc.int/files/meetings/paris_nov_2015/application/pdf/leaders_event_speakers_list_cop21_cmp11.pdf
Below are select comments and quotes from the speakers:
U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:
“As the leader of the world’s largest economy and the second largest (greenhouse gas) emitter … the United States of America not only recognises our role in creating this problem, we embrace our responsibility to do something about it.”
He set out “one possible future” of unchecked global warming: “Submerged countries, abandoned cities, fields that no longer grow. Political disruptions that trigger new conflicts, leaving more floods of desperate people seeking sanctuary in nations not their own.”
CHINESE PRESIDENT XI JINPING:
“Tackling climate change is a shared mission for mankind … Let us join hands to contribute to the establishment of an equitable and effective global mechanism on climate change, work for global sustainable development at a high level and bring about new international relations featuring win-win cooperation.”
Xi said the climate talks must address economic differences between nations and allow different countries to develop their own solutions to the problem of global warming.
Asked if the U.N. climate summit in Paris would mark a turning point in the fight against global warming, the pope said: “I am not sure, but I can say to you ‘now or never’.
“Every year the problems are getting worse. We are at the limits. If I may use a strong word I would say that we are at the limits of suicide.”
FRENCH PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE:
“To resolve the climate crisis, good will, statements of intent are not enough. We are at breaking point.”
Following the Nov. 13 attacks by Islamist militants that killed 130 people in Paris, he added: “I can’t separate the fight with terrorism from the fight against global warming. These are two big global challenges we have to face up to, because we have to leave our children more than a world freed of terror, we also owe them a planet protected from catastrophes.”
INDIAN PRIME MINISTER NARENDRA MODI:
“Climate justice demands that the little carbon space we still have, developing countries should have enough room to grow,” said Modi, a key player because of his country’s size and its heavy dependence on coal.
PRINCE CHARLES OF BRITAIN:
“If the planet were a patient, we would have treated her long ago. You, ladies and gentlemen, have the power to put her on life support, and you must surely start the emergency procedures without further procrastination.”
“Humanity faces many threats but none is greater than climate change.” he said. “In damaging our climate we are becoming the architects of our own destruction. We have the knowledge, the tools and the money (to solve the crisis).”
GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL:
The aim of the summit was “a binding U.N. framework” and a binding review mechanism to close the gap between the impact on global warming of promised measures and the work required to limit rising temperatures, she said.
U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON:
“I urge you to instruct your negotiators to choose the path of compromise and consensus. Bold climate action is in the national interest of every single country represented at this conference. The time for brinksmanship is over.”
RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN:
“We (Russia) have significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time we have managed to double our GDP. We have demonstrated that we can ensure economic development and take care of our environment at the same time.”
Putin said an agreement reached in Paris should be legally binding and should include both developed and developing nations. “Russia will continue to contribute to joint efforts at preventing global warming.”
ECUADOR’S PRESIDENT RAFAEL CORREA:
“An environmental debt needs to be paid.” An international court for environmental justice should be set up. “It is not understandable that we have courts to force countries to pay financial debts but we do not have a court to enforce environmental debts.”
TURKISH PRESIDENT TAYYIP ERDOGAN:
“The international community is on the verge of a new era in combating climate change … Our responsibility is to sign a fair, inclusive and legally binding agreement.”
TUVALU PRIME MINISTER ENELE SOPOAGA:
Governments must show the strongest leadership to limit “the effects of climate change which we strongly believe is also the cause of radicalism and terrorism. The plight of refugees we see today … and increasing terrorisms and radicalism represents a small measure of what the world, mankind, will face if we do not tackle climate change.”
ROBERT MUGABE, PRESIDENT OF ZIMBABWE:
“Developed countries are being miserly … they burden us for cleaning up the mess they have created.”
BARON WAQA, PRESIDENT OF NAURU
“The climate bill has finally come due. Who will pay? Right now it is being paid by the smallest and most vulnerable. We see a small toll exacted every day as our shorelines are surely eroded. Small island communities are among the first to pay the price of climate change but no one will escape forever.”
JUAN HERNANDEZ, PRESIDENT OF HONDURAS:
“For Honduras, climate change is a matter of life and death. The figures don’t add up … we are not all equally responsible.
“We haven’t come cap in hand … we come to show you how much we suffer.”
IKILILOU DHOININE, PRESIDENT OF COMOROS:
“We must accept the reality that climate change is accelerating more quickly than climate change negotiations.”
SAULI NIINISTO, PRESIDENT OF FINLAND:
“Small steps will no longer do. The biggest steps need to be taken by those with the biggest boots.”
TOMMY REMENGESAU, PRESIDENT OF PALAU:
“We need a Paris agreement to include a strong long-term goal and a regular review process … robust transparency rules and a permanent loss and damage mechanism. We must also scale up pre-2020 climate action.”
Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.
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Author: Alister Doyle is a writer at Reuters.
Image: Splinters of ice peel off from one of the sides of the Perito Moreno glacier. REUTERS/Andres Forza.