Speaking engagements


Date: 20 September
Speaker: UNFCCC Deputy Secretary Ovais Sarmad
Description: Keynote Speech on Green Transition and the Paris Agreement


Thank you to the Korean Environment Industry and Technology Institute (KEITI) and the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency for inviting me to this important event.

With less than 50 days until COP 27 in Sharm el Sheikh – Egypt, the largest UN conference on climate change and the environment, it is my pleasure to be here and share my thoughts with you.

Setting the scene

This is a moment of incredible urgency – despite our current global challenges, climate change remains the most significant, alarming and rapidly escalating crisis facing humanity. The world needs to halve the greenhouse gas emissions in less than 8 years to meet the goal of the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. 

With energy accounting for more than two-thirds of global emissions, a rapid and unprecedented global transition must be at the centre of our efforts to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. This implies accelerated climate action and scaled up innovative green solutions worldwide.

I welcome the presence of so many government and business officials in this room. It is essential for you to hear this from me: 

Long-term plans are vital, but if global leaders — public and private — do not make progress and establish clear plans for climate action in the next year, any plans for 2050 and beyond will be irrelevant. The only sustainable future is a renewable one. We need decisions now. There is simply no time left.

Green transition

We must end fossil fuel pollution and accelerate the green transition before we incinerate our only home.  The good news is that solutions are there. Renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar are readily available and in most cases, cheaper than coal and other fossil fuels.  

We cannot achieve the required system’s transformation without enhanced cooperation between nations, businesses, and civil society. It is essential to 

  • Reduce the carbon footprint of current energy products and services. 
  • Promote alternative supply-chains aligned with the climate goals, such as green hydrogen. 
  • Leverage digital technologies to empower individual energy consumers.

These transformations require us to continue to innovate on technologies, policies, financial instruments, business models and deliver integrated climate and sustainability solutions.

The Climate Action Pathways is an initiative for non-Party stakeholders to enhance climate action and ambition towards fully implementing the Paris Agreement. First launched in 2019, they set out sectoral visions for achieving a 1.5° C resilient world in 2050, with overarching transformational milestones, and key impacts that need to be achieved to realize them. This initiative might be of interest to some of the audience here today representing businesses and corporations.

The status of Global Carbon Market

Around the world, we observe an overall acceleration in the use of carbon markets:

  • In existing compliance markets, such as in California-Quebec, in the EU and the UK, more robust prices are observed. In many cases, 2022 prices are more than double than observed in the past decade – providing a more robust signal for decarbonization. Enabling deep decarbonization will indeed require high carbon prices.
  • China’s emission trading system is now the largest in the world with 4.5 billion tonnes CO2 covered annually, compared to the EU managing 1.6 billion tonnes. 
  • A growing number of developing countries are also considering, developing or launching domestic carbon markets: Mexico, Vietnam, Indonesia, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, to name a few. 

With this, the share of global GHG emissions managed through a pricing system is set to soon exceed 25%.

Article 6 

The Glasgow COP delivered decisions for operationalizing Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. After six years of negotiations on this item, work is going on now to deliver the details of various elements – with further decisions expected in at COP 27 in Sharm El Sheikh.

A growing number of countries and businesses are exploring or entering into agreements for implementing Article 6 activities. These stakeholders are increasingly aware of the opportunities offered by Article 6 but also getting more aware of the requirements.

I invite you to explore the opportunities offered by Carbon Markets through the implementation of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.

COP 27

As I mentioned earlier, we have less than 50 days left until COP 27. Success at our next climate conference will require: 

  • Accountability – nations are accountable to each other and to their people. This is why they need to set ambitious targets and implement them.
  • An honest assessment of their current plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet the 1.5C goal in order to minimize the devastating impacts of climate change. 
  • Implementation – countries need to show how they will implement, through policies and frameworks, the Paris Agreement and the Glasgow Climate Pact at home.  

At the same time, we must be aware that the Ukraine crisis is disrupting global energy markets, including clean energy investments.  The conflict is also threatening to draw away finance from developing countries to green their economies. These factors will add layers of complexity to the negotiations both leading up to and at COP 27. 

Clearly, the world in which COP 27 will be discussed will be very different from COP 26. This is both a risk and an opportunity for change. 


I would like to invite you to reflect on the following points as we move towards COP 27 and beyond for effective climate action at all levels:

  1. Radical collaboration: Public and private sectors’ leaders should go beyond reducing their own emissions to become solution providers, enabling others to reduce their emissions. International collaboration among nations and multi-level climate action between businesses, governments and civil society are key. 
  2. Innovation: Innovative solutions are needed to ensure that existing and new supply chains are fully aligned with the Paris Agreement and developed and scaled up at the level of ambition that is required. 
  3. Policies and regulations: Governments must build frameworks and reform bureaucracies to level the playing field for green solutions. In many countries, these systems still favour deadly fossil fuels. 

I look forward to the outcomes of this important forum. 

Thank you!

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