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President Kaljulaid to the UNGA: civic movements push us to act on the climate crisis

President Kaljulaid to the UNGA: civic movements push us to act on the climate crisis © Office of the President

Climate change and environmental degradation is one of these few things where we need to share collective responsibility and where we have had some success stories, president Kersti Kaljulaid of Estonia said today at the UN General Assembly.  In Estonia we believe that saving our planet is everyone’s civic responsibility — for example in the second world clean-up day on Saturday the civil movement born in Estonia spread to 179 countries and involved around 20 million people, president Kaljulaid said.

According to the Estonian Head of State the Estonian start-up sector underwrote a memorandum with global ambition, promising to be climate neutral in all their actions by 2030. “They bring some serious market power and also start-up thinking behind the table, including their ability to quickly and globally mobilise masses of people. The pledge to climate neutrality is open to all start-ups and other green-minded companies ready to support grassroots movement to save our planet. Today, a week after initiating the process, the number of signatories has already more than doubled and spread beyond Estonia, now covering more than 70 companies across Europe,“ president Kaljulaid added.

“We need these civic movements, among other things, to encourage policymakers that idealism, readiness to act for the benefit of humankind today and the children yet to be born – still exists. That allows us, politicians, to set aside resources for stopping climate change, which will inevitably reach and probably exceed 1% of global GDP,“ said the Estonian Head of State. “We have one good example to take with us from the past where our collective effort once paid off. It was back in 1987 when we agreed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out numerous substances that were responsible for ozone depletion. As a result, the ozone hole in Antarctica has since then been slowly healing,” the Estonian Head of State added.

It is the lack of true multilateralism, true and idealistic thinking for the benefit of humankind as a whole, that keeps undermining the positive effect of our global efforts, President Kersti Kaljulaid of Estonia said. “The UN is our tool to overcome it. It has to be sharpened, it has to be supported by new technologies, it has to be connected to civil societies through digital means allowing to join individual efforts to global movements – but it can never be replaced,” President Kaljulaid added.

According to the Estonian Head of State multilateralism is important in our capability to show compassion for the fate of others. “Compassion was shown to us when we regained our independence and rebuilt our state. We are ready to return this compassion and to take an elected seat for the period of 20-21 behind the most difficult table of international co-operation—the UN Security Council,” stated President Kaljulaid.

President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York wearing a dress depicting Antarctica in order to draw attention to the climate crisis and the significance of Antarctica and its high sensitivity to the changes of the climate system. Polar regions are the frontline of global warming because of their high sensitivity to the changes in the climate system. At the same time Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments contribute to the maintenance of life globally in important and unexpected ways. According to scientists if we do not reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 there will be widespread Antarctic transformation. Antarctica was discovered 200 years ago by an expedition led by an Estonian-born Baltic Naval officer Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen. President Kaljulaid comes from the same island called Saaremaa where admiral Bellingshausen was born.

You can find the full speech here.

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