Mary Robinson Speaks at the OECD Climate Change Experts Group Global Forum

Following the release of International Panel on Climate Change’s special report on 1.5oC of Global Warming, Mary Robinson presented at the OECD Climate Change Expert Group (CCXG) on implications of the report for people, human rights and climate justice.

Mrs Robinson addressed the audience of experts and negotiators from around the world emphasising the urgency of the problem at the heart of the IPCC Report saying “The evidence presented in the chapters and pages of the report – sobering facts about the impact humanity has already had on the climate system and hopeful reminders that it is not too late.  But really this is the last time we can say that phrase.  Time isn’t running out – it has run out.”

The IPCC report demonstrates a number of pathways to keep the global temperature at 1.5oC of warming, but these require strong political will and leadership.  Leadership that, Mrs Robinson noted, has been delivered by small island developing States, those most likely to be impacted, but that now needs to be taken up by developed nations.

Mrs Robinson also highlighted that with the increased speed needed to de-carbon the world’s economies came risks to people in the most vulnerable situations.  It will be of even greater importance to ensure that climate action is taken with respect for human rights, a just transition pathway for labour, and with an eye to achieving climate justice.  She called for greater capacity within the UNFCCC Secretariat to ensure that Parties are supported in undertaking rights based climate action going forward, in the form of a human rights focal point.

Mrs Robinson was joined by Dr. Joeri Rogelj, who had just arrived from the IPCC Conference that agreed the Summary for Policy Makers for the 1.5 Degree report.  He too stressed the importance of maintaining global temperatures to within 1.5oC  of pre-industrial levels as the basis for a liveable world. Moreover he noted that the synergies between policies that limit warming to 1.5oC and the Sustainable Development Goals far outweighed any trade-off options and that they can go hand in hand with global efforts to eradicate poverty and pursue sustainable development.

During a roundtable discussion following the presentations representatives of the Marshall Islands, the Least Developed Countries and Belize underlined the importance of taking a long term outlook and that 1.5oC represented the only safe pathway for everyone.

In her closing remarks Mr Robinson repeated the importance of not treating the commitment to move on from ‘business as usual’ as an empty remark and to use the IPCC Report to stoke real and ambitious climate action.