Čaputová: We are failing the effort to prevent the irreversible devastation of our planet

Read the Slovak president's full speech from Glasgow.

Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová delivers her message during the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021.Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová delivers her message during the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (Source: TASR)

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The COP has met several times since we agreed in Paris to reach net zero by mid-century. Yet the science is very clear: we are nowhere near this goal.

Glasgow is make-or-break for the planet. We must double down on our efforts to cut emissions and mitigate the impact of the climate crisis. If we fail, the only thing to discuss at future COPs will be the irreversible devastation of our planet and its habitats. This scenario is just about avoidable – but so far, we seem to be failing to prevent it.

The young generation understands this. In my own country, Slovakia, 42 percent of young people are very worried about the climate crisis. 73 percent think humanity has failed to look after our planet. Two thirds find politicians’ actions to address the climate crisis disappointing. A recent study carried out in a number of other countries has shown that 40 percent of young people are considering not having children because of the climate crisis.

It is clear: the next generation knows we are running out of time. And we as political leaders have run out of excuses. I am glad that as the European Union, we are doing what is needed: reducing our emissions by at least 55% by 2030, becoming the first climate-neutral continent by 2050 and helping developing countries do the same.

Slovakia’s own emissions are down by 46 percent compared to 1990 levels, with methane reduced by more than half. Our electricity mix is already 80 percent low on carbon, and, from 2023, we will not use coal to produce electricity. 43 percent of our post-pandemic recovery funds will support sustainable green transition in transport, industry or buildings, while not leaving the most vulnerable behind.

We know that this alone will not prevent worst-case scenarios. It takes truly global action: not just by the EU and the rest of the developed world, although we do shoulder a special responsibility. We must all do our fair share – including those states whose top 3 representatives are not in Glasgow. This also applies to climate finance. In 2019 to 2023 Slovakia is doubling our voluntary contribution to the Green Climate Fund.

Excellencies,

The carbon footprint of the planes we arrived on cannot be the only output from this year’s COP. We must turn the Paris commitments into credible delivery and real CO2 reductions. We have different starting points and paths for development – but we do have one shared goal: preserving our planet. Let’s act accordingly. Thank you.

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