The following is a partial transcription of Christina Figueres’ speech made at the World Future Energy Summit, Abu Dhabi, January 18th 2016. What is particularly interesting is her rejection of the role of the market and the need to ensure that the market moves in the right direction “for the benefit of all of us.” In other words the dogma of market capitalism cannot be allowed to undermine the process of dealing with climate change.
“The kind of energy we invest in [over] the next 10 to 15 years will determine whether we do our job or not. Economic growth, same story, the kind of economic growth that we have, the kind of carbon intensity of that economic growth, will determine whether we get to climate change on time. Industrial innovation and infrastructure, same thing, unless we have the dramatic innovation and resilient infrastructure, we will not meet our climate goals. Cities and communities, and I am going through the sustainable development goals, unless we have smart cities and resilient communities we will not get to our climate goals, unless we dramatically change our consumption and production we will not get to our climate goals, so these five determine together whether we get to our climate goals, now we have three sustainable development goals actually are determined by what we do about climate change and those are very clearly poverty, health, and hunger. Unless we are able to face climate change in a timely fashion we will soon have levels of poverty around this world go to such a scale that we will never be able to end poverty; I think that we can agree that this is morally inadmissible for every human being alive today. We cannot accept that this is where we are going to, so unless we address climate change we will never be able to eradicate poverty, unless we address climate change we will never have food security and conquer hunger, and unless we address climate change we will of course not be able to deal with some, not all, but some of these important matters.
So the state of development goals and climate are one and the same package, either they are determining the way we do climate, or they are determined by climate; the interesting thing is, however, that addressing climate is the one and only goal we have that has a ticking clock embedded. All of the other goals, including poverty, closest to all of our hearts, could be done gradually and according to our possibilities, but not climate change, which has a ticking clock, because it is the greatest threat to the well-being of our generation and future generations.
We don’t have an option, we have to address climate and in fact we have to address it at a faster rate than our own wonderful and well beloved Paris agreement says, because we have to reach peaking very very quickly, in order to protect the most vulnerable and in order to protect developing countries, so that is the ticking clock that we have here, and we are only able to do that if we are able to take the first steps very quickly, if we are able to take national climate plans and ensure that those are very very quickly accelerated and implemented, because we can take the international policy framework that has been given by the Paris Agreement developed into international policy with investment incentives and predictability of policy, so the capital can flow. The trillions of dollars my friends, that are very happily sitting under many pillows around the world, waiting to go into the new economy, but we have to be able to open up the window and to provide incentives for that flow. This is doable, it is absolutely doable, if the Paris agreement is doable, this is doable. We have to all come together and to do this in a way that is intentional, is purposeful and does not allow us to begin to think that it is market forces that are going to determine whether we are able to do this, it is not the market forces, we need to create those market forces, we need to create with all the conditions, so that the market moves in the way that we know it needs to move, because we have only one direction in which it can work for the benefit of all of us, and it is going to work to create a highly resilient global economy.”