Secretary of State, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I just want to say, because you've got many more important things to do than listen to me, I am enormously touched that so many of you have been able to come this evening, when I know just how hard and difficult these negotiations can be, let alone the fact that many of you probably never get much time to eat nor sleep. So, I just wanted to say that it is a great opportunity to meet many of you from so many different countries.
There are so many people out there around the world putting so much expectation on your shoulders and in many ways, the whole weight of history rests on you this time round.
I remember going to the Amazon in 1992 and managing to create a gathering on the old Royal Britannia in the Amazon, with the then President of Brazil, just before the Rio summit, the first one. I've been invited to some other COPs since then, but you know just how critical this one is because we have run out of time. We've left tackling these issues until far too late in the day. We haven't paid enough attention to the science. We haven't paid enough attention to what the UNFCC has been saying for so long, and, as a result, we've fallen so far behind that we have an enormous task to catch up on.
In the last two years, I've noticed that having not been able after 40 years, to engage many of the people in the private sector, specifically the financial services sector, that in the last two years I've been able to help convene many more important elements in that sector. I can tell you that they have enormous numbers of trillions of dollars that they now want to invest in sustainable opportunities, and in the transition requirements of so many countries around the world.
I've said it before, and I will go on saying it again and again, that the task cannot be achieved by the public sector on its own. You need, and I have felt this for many years, a public, private and civil society partnership above all else to tackle this problem with the speed and the acceleration we need to do so.
So please don't forget that there is the private sector. The public sector needs also to provide the right market signals, the right mandates, and of course the right risk reduction, which will enable opportunities to unlock all these trillions. The multilateral development banks are also critical in all this, again I don't need to tell you that.
Remember that there's millions and millions of young people out there on whose behalf, they may not realize it, I've been trying to work for the last 40 years, because I mind about your children and grandchildren as much as mine. One of the things that motivated me more than anything else is that I didn't want to be accused by my grandchildren or children of not doing the things that needed doing at the time. I managed to keep a bit ahead of them, but I wondered how long it would take.
There is a lot of anger and frustration out there. There's a big march tomorrow, which some people have said I should join, but that’s more difficult. The point is, please don't forget these people out there, don't forget that it is their future, I promise you, that you hold in your hands. I'm sure you've been told this over and over again. So when you get exhausted, please remember that they're expecting all of you to bury your differences, however many you may have, to achieve the common purpose, which is of such utterly critical importance. Otherwise, we are facing so rapidly the breakdown of so many of nature's systems, from the hydrological cycle (which could easily go very quickly because we're reaching that tipping point), the melting of the permafrost in the north and the rise in sea levels. All of this is happening now.
I've met people from all over the world in the last week and elsewhere when I go around the Commonwealth, so many people are in a dire situation of such vulnerability with more and more people wanting to move as climate migrants, because they are now finding such scarce resources, such as drought. Unless we respond to their cries for help, we will end up in a very, very difficult situation indeed with conflict and ever scarcer resources.
I remember speaking about this over 30 years ago in a lecture at Cambridge to the then Global Security unit, but nobody paid the slightest attention. I am begging you this time to pay attention to these people, because they matter.
We are depending on you and I look forward to hearing your valuable results. I hope also that instead of waiting for five years to come back, why don’t you think about coming back next year so that we can make even more progress.