Speech by Mark Rutte at the UN Climate Summit

Speech by Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the UN Climate Summit in New York, 23 September 2014

Secretary-General, esteemed colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

At some point you may have landed at Amsterdam Airport without realising that the runway was over four metres below sea level.
This is a good example of our geography as a low-lying delta region.
Without dams and dikes, more than half our country would be under water all or part of the time.
So you can imagine that climate change and its effects are a major concern in my country, and we are determined to take action.

In brief, my message to you today is: if we act now and if we act together, we can mitigate climate change and we can adapt to the physical and environmental challenges we face.
Both sides of this equation are important.
And in both cases, cooperation is crucial.

First and foremost, I mean international cooperation between countries and regions, and our shared responsibility to confront climate change.
That's why we're here.
That's why we aim to forge an ambitious climate agreement next year in Paris.
All countries must contribute in line with their ability.
This principle will be set down in the new climate agreement, and we haveĀ  to make it happen.
For example, with the help of the new Green Climate Fund, which the Netherlands is keen to contribute to.

But in order to achieve our international ambitions, it is also vital for government authorities, businesses and civil society organisations to work together at national level.
Last year, the Netherlands reached a deal with 40 different partners, from Shell to Greenpeace.
Our common goal is energy innovation, and in this way we will ensure that the Netherlands meets - and even exceeds - its climate goals for 2020.
My country will cancel an extra 14 million tons of CO2 credits.
Many other countries in the EU have a similar story to tell.

The target is a 20 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions in Europe between 1990 and 2020.
The Netherlands believes that the European target for 2030 should be at least twice that, and for 2050, 80 to 95%. This is very ambitious, but experience teaches that we can accomplish a lot by forming broad coalitions.

We need to keep using incentives to encourage climate innovation.
For example, by putting a price tag on CO2 emissions, like the European Emissions Trading Scheme.
Our philosophy is simple: making sustainability a business case is the best guarantee for a successful climate policy.
Green growth pays.
There is a future to be won, and money to be made.

The focus on cooperation is also visible in the way we in the Netherlands deal with the effects of climate change.
In our case, this means preparing for a rising sea level and higher peak discharges in the major rivers that flow through our country.
If Amsterdam Airport is five metres below sea level in a hundred years, planes will still have to be able to land safely.
That's our mission.

This battle against water is not new for us, of course.
But the need to act is clearer and more compelling than ever.
With this in mind, we've launched a special delta programme in which central government works with municipalities and the water sector.
The programme is institution-based and well-funded, and it runs all the way to the next century.
For the first time in our long history of water management, we are not trying to deal with the previous disaster, but looking to the future, to prevent a new one.

Our special relationship with water and all the specific know-how we've built up over the years brings with it a special responsibility to share this knowledge, exchange expertise and offer assistance.
The Dutch government and business community are more than willing to do so, especially in developing countries, where large numbers of people and a lot of economic activity are concentrated in low-lying deltas.
But every country is vulnerable to some degree.
In this city, which was hit so hard by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, it is fitting to mention the Resilient Cities Initiative, which is sharing state-of-the-art knowledge on water safety with 2,000 cities worldwide.
We in the Netherlands are also doing our part in this regard.
And we will continue to do so.

So, ladies and gentleman, let's act. Let's act now and let's act together.

Thank you.