UN says it will not allow Paris accord 'to unravel further'

Amina J. Mohammed, deputy secretary-general at the United Nations. Photo by: Kim Haughton / U.N.

BRUSSELS, Belgium — A high-level representative of the United Nations has said the organization will not allow the Paris Agreement on Climate Change “to unravel further” in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw.

Speaking at the European Development Days summit in Brussels, Amina J. Mohammed — deputy secretary-general of the U.N. — told an audience of 5,000 that it was imperative no other countries renege on their climate change commitments.

Trump announced his controversial decision to pull the country out of the Paris Agreement last week. While Mohammed did not mention Trump by name, she made her references clear, saying, “I don’t think it’s necessary today that we focus on the decision by ‘someone’ to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. To the secretary-general and myself, the next step is very clear: we press on, we accelerate our actions, we ramp up the ambitions.”

Mohammed added, “We are also clear that we should not let the global consensus unravel any further. We need to find an effective solution that ensures the participation of all countries in managing the dangers of climate change to each and every one of us.”

The deputy secretary-general said she would continue to lobby Trump to recommit to the treaty. “The secretary-general and myself will leave no stone unturned in our conversations with the relevant parties, including that ‘someone.’ Together we believe we can go much further,” she said.

Speaking shortly after Mohammed at the opening ceremony of the summit, Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament, reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to the climate accord, saying, “I can tell you that Europe will stick to its commitments under the Paris Agreement.”

Thousands of political, business and civil society leaders are currently gathered in Brussels for the 11th annual EDD, which runs through Thursday. High-level speakers, including Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, also spoke on the topic of climate change at the summit’s opening ceremony Wednesday morning.

Solberg stressed the connection between climate change and other challenges. “There is no future where you think you can keep your jobs and not care about the environment,” she said. She added that “all countries of the world, rich and poor alike, have work to do at their own national level.” In some ways, she said, “we are all developing countries.”

President of Guyana David Granger emphasized the vulnerability of small island and low-lying developing nations, such as his own, to the effects of climate change and advocated for a new, green model of development. “Investment in the environment means investment in the future,” he said. “There can be nothing more profitable.” He called on European governments to invest in green development technologies and on the international community to support the structural transformations needed to ensure that vulnerable developing states “survive the perils of global warming and climate change.”

Mohammed added that the U.N.’s proposed 2019 Climate Summit in New York will be a key moment for such commitments, but that “we need action now.”

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About the authors

  • Jessica abrahams

    Jessica Abrahams

    Jessica Abrahams is Devex's Associate Editor for Europe. Based in London, she was previously an editor at Prospect magazine and has written for publications including the Guardian, the Telegraph, Bloomberg News, and Germany's taz.die tageszeitung with a focus on global women's rights and social affairs. She holds graduate degrees in journalism from City University London and in international relations from Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals.
  • Edwards sopie

    Sophie Edwards

    Sophie Edwards is a reporter for Devex based out of Washington D.C. and London where she covers global development news, careers and lifestyle issues. She has previously worked for NGOs, the World Bank and spent a number of years as a journalist for a regional newspaper in the U.K. She has an MA from the Institute of Development Studies and a BA from Cambridge University.