Statement by President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö at the Interactive Dialogue on Protecting our planet and combating climate change, during the Sustainable Development Summit in New York on 27 September 2015

I would like to begin by congratulating the Co-Chairs on their leadership in this run-up to the Climate Conference in Paris. I hope that the momentum we are gathering here today will help us to make the crucial decisions everyone expects from us in December.

Ensuring that humankind secures its future by learning to live sustainably within its planetary boundaries is a major challenge. In this matter, we cannot pass responsibility down to the next generation. We are the last generation that can make a difference and we will be judged based on how we manage this threat, possibly the most challenging that humankind has ever encountered.

We have already exceeded the Earth’s carrying capacity with regard to climate change, as temperatures keep rising. There is no time to waste. A rapid and coherent solution is required.

The success of our efforts in combating climate change depends largely on three interlinked issues: the need for coherent policies, putting a price tag on pollution and enabling the participation of everyone. All of these three questions are connected by our willingness to bear our responsibilities.

Firstly, at national level, we aim to take a holistic government approach and involve all of the relevant stakeholders. Finland views the sustainability aspects of food security, water and energy as crucial within the context of the fight against climate change. For business to thrive, an enabling environment is required. We all need to opt for renewable energy and energy efficiency now.

Secondly, unsustainable activities should carry a price tag. I commend multilateral efforts towards carbon pricing and urge everyone to participate. Furthermore, as a member of the Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform, Finland encourages all others to join the group.

Thirdly, we need the participation of everyone in society. Individual choices can accumulate to produce massive effects which are either beneficial or detrimental. We need the efforts not only of the more capable countries, or those responsible for most carbon emissions, but of every member of the global community. Everyone’s participation is needed.

As leaders, we must show the way. Achieving an ambitious and global agreement in Paris is not just an option, but a necessity.