George A. Papandreou - President of Socialist International - Former Prime Minister
George A. Papandreou - President of Socialist International - Former Prime Minister
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We cannot let down the world

Copenhagen, Denmark, 17 December 2009

We cannot let down our children
We cannot let down our children

Speech by Prime Minister George A. Papandreou to the Joint Committee on High-Level Conference in Copenhagen

"Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen,

Humanity has never faced a more serious, a more difficult challenge. And even Copenhagen is no small task. It’s no small task to agree at this global level. This is global governance in the making. But we must agree, and agree to a binding commitment.

For global agreement to succeed, however, it must viable, a solution that can be implemented in practice. It must be equitable, that is just, fair towards all nations. It member state be transparent, a solution with measurable targets and reductions, with mutual accountability.

And it must empower us all, governments, non-government actors and our citizens, to transform our high-carbon economy to a low-carbon society.

Greece, for our part, will take initiatives in the Mediterranean, with the cooperation of the European Union’s Spanish presidency, as well as in the Balkans and the Black Sea countries.

And as a traditional maritime country and a leading shipping nation, we would like to see the reduction or limitation of greenhouse gases from ships, as a responsibility of the IMO. And we need this point included in our agreement.

The European Union, of which we are a member, has taken the lead and is ready to commit to a 30% reduction.

But other developed countries, such as the United States, must be and must put ambitious offers on the table. The more prosperous and developed nations must rise to the challenge and provide the financial means, the technological know-how to developing countries, to combat climate change as well as provide assistance to the least developed countries. Help them, help them adapt to impacts and enhanced risks such as flooding and mudslides, extreme weather events that bring devastation.

And let me make a plea: Let us listen to the voices of the AOSIS small island group.

The Kyoto Protocol has provided a basis for action, and need be respected by all developed countries. China and Brazil have taken important steps, but they and other large developing countries must further contribute, in order to transform their economies to the more green economy, if we are to stay under the 2oC limit.

The Socialist International, which I also represent here, has proposed, among other measures, funding through an international carbon tax, green bonds or transaction taxes, transforming foreign debt into equal funds to be used by poor countries for climate change adaptation.

But beware: This is not only about money. That would be like putting more horsepower into an old car. We need to change the car itself. That is why we are also talking about revolutionizing our educational systems, to match and support the growing green revolution, by empowering our citizens, by empowering our democracies and making our societies more participative.

We are also convinced that a green economy will be our main asset against the global recession we are facing today, the financial recession.

Finally, if we are to reach agreement, a new spirit of solidarity is necessary, to create trust, to create confidence and credibility between us, and guarantee that we all, developed, developing and less developed nations, stand up to the responsibility to make our economies green economies.

Dear colleagues, we today in Copenhagen, we face a daunting choice. On the one hand, we face the nightmare of humanity becoming the species that dies out, just as a parasite does as it devours its host. Or otherwise, the other choice is that of a dream, a dream of a humanity that rises to the challenge of cooperation and solidarity, to create a new deal, a new deal with our planet, a new deal with our environment, a new deal between our nations, a new deal amongst our peoples.

So let us abandon any blame game. We cannot let down the world. We cannot let down our children. We are here, and we are responsible for the future of this world.
Our voices here today must make this dream a concrete reality. We can, and we can if we agree today and act now.

Thank you very much."

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