One Planet Summit keynote address

President Macron's One Planet Summit

Plaza Hotel, New York

26 September 2018


Kia ora koutou katoa

Can I start President Macron by acknowledging your leadership in pulling together this summit for a second time; along with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Michael Bloomberg and Dr Jim Yong Kim for jointly organising this event.

I have said a few times before that climate change is New Zealand’s nuclear free moment. I want to share with you what that means

There was a time when my nation was unified by a movement against nuclear testing in the Pacific, declaring ourselves nuclear-free in the mid-1980s.  At its core New Zealand’s anti-nuclear campaign was about protecting our beautiful and unique Pacific environment - our waters, our lands and our people. We felt a sense of guardianship.

Today we face a new threat, and while the same issues are at stake, there is a stark difference between the nuclear free movement and climate change. Unity.

In the past we were defined as a nation by the coming together for a cause, and now, as a globe, we need to do the same again. Not because of the benefits of unity, but because of the necessity of it.

This is especially the case for the Pacific.  I have seen and heard this for myself on many occasions now, including on a recent visit to the island nations of Samoa, Tonga, Niue and the Cook Islands.

Two of these islands had recently endured a cyclone that had affected homes, schools, the electricity network, even the Parliament buildings were destroyed in Tonga.

In Tonga I met a child standing outside one of the buildings that had no roof or internal walls. Through a translator, she told me it was her classroom. She showed me where she used to sit, and pointed to the posters and drawings that were tattered and shredded around the room.

Cyclones are not new to the region, but the scale and ferocity of them in recent times most certainly is.

But it is not only storms that threaten Pacific nations. There is already salt water intrusion into fresh water supplies. Staple crops like taro have been devastated in some areas near the coast due to salt water intrusion. And more importantly, some aquifers are at risk of becoming salty.

In Samoa there is a village called Moata’a where the main pathway into town is now regularly under water, especially at high tide. The village children have to wade their way to school and back each day.

There is no question - my Pacific neighbours didn’t cause climate change, but they are on the frontline fighting it.

Climate change calls for global unified action. None of us can opt out of severe weather events, or rising sea levels. So nor should we have the ability to opt out of preventative action.

That’s why the government I represent has made climate change a priority. We are proud champions of the “Carbon Neutrality Coalition” launched at last year’s summit.  I am pleased to be convening the Inaugural High-Level Meeting of the Coalition tomorrow.

New Zealand will introduce a Zero Carbon Bill this year to legislate an ambitious goal that would be fully aligned with the Paris Agreement’s objective for the world to become carbon neutral in the second half of this century.

We are proud to have launched the Global Research Alliance in 2009. The Alliance allows members to collaborate and pool resources to intensify research and share knowledge, and now boasts over 50 Members.

We are focused on playing our part in making finance flows consistent with a path toward low greenhouse gas emission and climate resilient development.  We are in the process of establishing a Green Investment Fund to accelerate investments that lower greenhouse gas emissions. 

And we have demonstrated our commitment to clean, green and sustainable energy with a goal to have 100% renewable energy by 2035, and by ending the issuing of new permits for offshore oil and gas exploration.

This was a decision we considered carefully given the impact on the industry and jobs in affected communities. People’s employment should not fall victim to climate change too.

That’s why we have set up a dedicated Just Transitions Unit to support our communities to manage this transition to a clean energy future, and to support people into new work.

Governments’ efforts are just part of the picture.  Business, civil society and particularly local communities play a critical role.

I have been encouraged by how the private sector is responding in New Zealand. 60 business leaders representing half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions have formed a coalition to set a target aligned with Paris goals.

In the financial sector, our New Zealand Superannuation Fund was named by Bretton Woods II as one of the world’s 25 most responsible asset allocators. The Fund is a founding member of the One Planet Sovereign Wealth Fund Working Group and is also part of the Climate Action 100+ initiative. I am delighted that the Fund’s Head of Responsible Investment, Anne-Maree O’Connor, is here today.

Our work does not stop at our border. New Zealand will spend at least $300 million in development assistance over the next 4 years, with the majority of this to be spent in the Pacific.

And we are pleased to be joining France and the European Union to set up the Joint Pacific Initiative for Biodiversity, Climate Change and Resilience, with a $1 million contribution to supporting work on invasive alien species in the Pacific.

Finally, New Zealand remains committed to playing a significant role on the world stage.  The Paris Agreement lays good foundations but there is important work ahead.

On climate change time is not our friend.

At the upcoming meeting of the UNFCCC in Katowice, Parties will need to be vigilant to ensure the high ambition of the Paris Agreement is accurately reflected in the rules for implementation.

And in 2020, when countries re-communicate our Nationally Determined Contributions, we must seek to enhance our NDCs to be as ambitious as possible in light of our individual circumstances. 

My country has always been a firm supporter of strong multilateral solutions to global challenges.  We may be small but Kiwis take the attitude that no problem is too big to solve.

We were the first country to give women the vote, the first to set up a welfare state to support the poor during the depths of the depression and the first to scale the imposing heights of Mt Everest. We intend to be with you on the forefront of this challenge too.

I believe, as firmly as ever, that a global response is required to meet the global challenge of our generation. With unity, ingenuity and innovation, we will meet this challenge head on and we will succeed.

Thank you.