UN climate chief: Leaders should write ‘business plan for the world’

The head of the United Nations’ climate organization said a global agreement to mitigate climate change can provide the private sector with certainty for investments.

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, said Monday that next year’s planned agreement is an “extraordinary opportunity.”

“But that opportunity will only be realized if, in addition to what countries are going to bring forward domestically … globally, governments must set a long-term target,” she said. “Because if they don’t, private sector investment doesn’t know how long that regulatory certainty is going to be.”

She therefore declared that world leaders “are writing a business plan for the world.”

Figueres’ gave her speech as part of Climate Week NYC, a series of New York City events timed to coincide with the UN’s Tuesday climate summit, at which world leaders are expected to announce commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

She said leaders should aim for emissions to peak in the next decade and fall to net zero in the next 50 years.

“That is the only we that we are actually going to get back on track,” Figueres said.

In addition to mitigating the negative impacts of climate change and enabling private investments by giving companies certainty, she said a global agreement “democratizes energy, because over the past 100 years, what we’ve actually done, frankly, is limited access.”

She said the world “cannot afford” the current rate of 1 billion people without access to energy, and a global agreement can remedy that.