“We Have to Win the Battle of Ideas, 2050 Pathway Provides a Structure to Do So” – President’s Speech at the High Level Event on 2050 Pathways

Prime Minister and COP23 President’s speech at the Presidency High Level Event on Creating 2050 Pathways.

Bula vinaka, guten abend and a very good evening to you all.

I’m delighted to be here to make the opening remarks in support of the 2050 Pathway, which I regard as a very important framework in which our Grand Coalition operates.

The initiative – launched at COP22 by France and Morocco – has been steadily gaining traction from all across the Grand Coalition. We now have large numbers of businesses, states and cities – as well as national governments – making plans to accelerate climate action. All with a view to achieving net zero carbon emissions in the longer term.

I want to pay tribute to Laurence Tubiana and recall what she said last year: “Having a good plan is never a sufficient condition for success, but not having one is always a recipe for failure ”.

Friends, the 2050 Pathway is a good plan. And as COP23 President, I want to provide you with all the support I can to build on the momentum that we have already established.

Over the past few days, I have been speaking at a number of events in and around the Bonn Zone that display the many ambitious commitments made by what were once called non-state actors but are now called non-party stakeholders. See, I’m learning the language.

But I’m also learning that even people who are under pressure to deliver in the short term are thinking long term. And I’ve always thought that is one of the great duties of anyone in a leadership position, whether it is in government, the private sector or in any walk of life. To make decisions as if the future matters, not just for short-term expedience.

By definition, the 2050 Pathway means laying a proper foundation for those who follow us and will make decisions themselves in the world we build now.

We must always be aware that we may not get the credit for the decisions we make but others who follow us will be in a much better position because of the commitment we showed. We also know that sometimes you have to take some flack for having the courage to be a pioneer.

Governor Schwarzenegger praised Governor Brown yesterday for his early promotion of renewable energy in California, when he was mocked by his critics but stood firm. And we now know that the economic development of that great state has prospered as a result. So courage has its dividends. And no matter where we come from in the world, it’s the courage to make the necessary changes and confidence in the future that really matters.

Friends, look at what has been achieved in China, where there is a plan and where the human, financial and technical resources have been mobilised at scale to develop more affordable renewable energy. That long-term plan has not only benefited China. Low cost renewable technology is now available at lower cost anywhere in the world.

Germany made its own contribution to renewable energy in its own way with its own plan. And while there are obviously differences in their approach, the common element is commitment to a transition and the creation of a new energy system.

Friends, along with better planning at a national level, the scale of corporate climate action supporting the Paris Agreement is remarkable. I’ve been impressed to learn that 89 per cent of the world’s largest high-emitting companies now have carbon emission targets – science-based targets not figures plucked from the air. And 20 per cent of those companies are planning low carbon strategies to 2030 and beyond.

These are pathways to prosperity and a safe climate in themselves and there are many other ways to get to our objective. Many of you here will doubtless have your own plans and your knowledge and experience will be shared through this process. Which is why our Grand Coalition is an open movement – open to anybody with the ability to design and execute a plan. And play their part in the transition we must make to achieve our 2050 net zero goal.

Friends, we all know that in any campaign, you must set an objective but you must also take decisive and effective first steps. And we all need to move more rapidly towards our objective. Indeed the next five years are absolutely critical. We need to make the hard yards now if we are to have any chance of winning.

We have to win a lot of contests in the economy. Clean energy has to beat dirty energy and it has to win on cost. It has to win for many, not just a few. And it has to lead to a better life – better health, cleaner air and a better relationship with our planet.

We also have to win the battle of ideas. And that is the wonderful thing about the 2050 Pathway. It provides a space for those ideas to flow into, as well as a structure that will help us attract the resources we need – including the investment in the trillions of dollars required to meet our target.

I want to thank all of you who have taken such great strides along this pathway. And to close by paying tribute to my Climate Champion and friend, Inia Seruiratu, for his commitment and spirit. Thank you for the opportunity to address you this evening and I wish you well in your deliberations.

Vinaka vakalevu.