I warmly thank you, Madam President, for your dedication and commitment in preparing and convening today’s event. It is a most timely debate we are having and I thank you for your invitation.
Last year, we have seen another year in which temperature records were set: The hottest year on record in Austria, a country where vulnerable alpine regions cover 60 percent of its surface.
Polar caps and glaciers are melting, sea levels rising, weather phenomena aggravating and desertification is encroaching.
Anyone who would argue that these fundamental changes to our planet’s climate are not inflicted by mankind is turning a blind eye to science and to scientific evidence.
we are here because we acknowledge: Our current efforts are not enough to keep Global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. We all must do more.
We all should have done more already.
Highlighting this fact, Millions of young people, students, pupils, all over the world took to the streets in a peaceful manner.
In Austria, over ten thousand young people took part in “Fridays for Future”. I had a conversation with them in my office last week and this is what they asked me to convey to you. I quote:
“We are the biggest climate movement in the world.
We are the voices of the next generation. We demand change – and we demand it now. The climate crisis cannot be solved by politics asking the individual to do more. Instead, politics must create the framework in which sustainable change is possible. Scientists all over the world have been working for decades on solutions. and for decades, their work has been ignored. In the face of this, it takes us, young people scared about their future, to hold politics responsible. It is up to you, political leaders, to take the next steps!”
They are trying to fix what we broke.
the commitment of these young people is encouraging. They are trying to fix what we broke – Our planet. Necessary changes must take place now.
The key lies in cooperation. The answer lies in multilateralism.
Austria and the European Union will always remain committed to that.
I am grateful and honoured that nineteen Heads of State and Government from all across Europe have joined forces in an appeal for more Climate Ambition just before COP24 in Katowice last year.
And it is great to see that some of them are here today: Thank you President Janos Ader of Hungary and President Borut Pahor of Slovenia for your dedication and engagement.
We need to keep up this momentum!
This is why I would like to expand our Initiative beyond Europe and take it global. I sincerely hope that many of you will join in and that we can keep the ball rolling - to the UN Climate Summit in September and beyond.
Let us get on with it, young and old, for the sake of the future generations for the one planet we have.