New Year Reception for the Diplomatic Corps
New Year speeches traditionally look back on the previous year; offer expectations, articulate hopes for the coming year.
This time I would like to discuss a topic which fundamentally defines all our lives, which ever corner of the world we live in. This is climate change. Why?
Instead of politely knocking, 2019 virtually kicked the door into our faces, bringing further alarming news. The old town of Havana was inundated by the sea. Extreme rainfall followed the tsunami in Indonesia. A brutal heatwave hit Australia. The icecap on the Arctic and in Greenland shrunk to an unprecedented level. Substantial melting began on Antarctica as well, which was previously considered to be stable.
Considering the fact that we have had quite a few of them in recent years, these events remind me of the wisdom of László Barabási-Albert – the Transylvanian Hungarian scientist teaching in Boston – who said that time is our most valuable non-renewable resource.
Questions of immense importance weigh on us. However, the time necessary to respond to them, to resolve them is running out fast. Just a few of these questions: what shall we do with accelerating climate change? Because, despite all our promises, greenhouse gas emissions continued to increase last year.
More than three years have passed since Paris. Back then we were all hoping that the work will continue with the enthusiasm demonstrated in Paris. We knew that we would have to develop numerous particular rules and with the passing of time it also became clear to us that we would need to increase our commitment (ambition levels) in order to avert the climate disaster.
In comparison, the negotiations of the past years – Marrakech, Bonn, Bangkok - have yielded little success. The only good news coming out of Katowice was that we have managed to prevent the collapse of the Paris Agreement. The failure is in no way the responsibility of the host countries of these events, but it can be stated as a certain fact that today we are further away from the two-degree target, then we were three years ago in Paris.
Although we already have a rulebook to begin the implementation of the Paris Agreement in 2021. We do not have the courage to make the decisions necessary to break the galloping pace of climate change.
Albert Einstein said: We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.