»Climate Change is the Key Challenge of our Time«

Speech by Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen on the Occasion of the UN-Conference COP 24 in Katowice/Poland

Excellencies,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen!

I warmly thank President Duda for his invitation.

Climate change is the key challenge of our time:
Our generation is the first to experience the rapid increase in temperatures around the globe.
And it will probably be the last generation to hold the key to beating the global climate crisis in our own hands.

This year was the hottest year on record in Austria, a country where over sixty percent of the surface are covered by alpine regions, a particularly vulnerable biosphere.
Clearly, adapting to these challenges requires great efforts and precautions, for which adequate funding must be provided.

The urgency of the task is clearly underlined by the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C (“one point five degrees Celsius”).

In tackling global warming, it is crucial to have great ambitions, to dream big:
I therefore welcome the recent announcement by the European Commissioner Canete to make the EU climate neutral by 2050.

And I am grateful and honoured that - ahead of this conference - 18 European Heads of State and Government have joined me in an appeal for more Climate Ambition.

Let us get on with it, for the sake of the future of our children and grandchildren and out of respect for the wonder of life on the one planet we have.

To do this, we need to muster all the support we can.

This is why - together with my friend, Arnold Schwarzenegger - we initiated the R20 Austrian World Summit, an initiative which not only supports the key role of subnational actors to implement the Paris Agreement, but also showcases best practice examples.

I have asked Arnold to give us a bit of a pep talk, to which he kindly agreed. 

Dear friends,

please join me in welcoming a special guest today:

Dear Arnold, may I please invite you to join me up here and to share your message with us.