Address by H.E. Lars Løkke Rasmussen, COP-president, Prime Minister of Denmark, at the High-level Event at COP15 in Copenhagen, December 18, 2009

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Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

A special welcome to the many Heads of State and Government, who have joined us here in Copenhagen for this historic conference. I am gratified that so many of you have accepted our invitation. Your presence is a major factor in ensuring success and a clear expression of global commitment.

The purpose of this informal morning event is to look beyond Copenhagen. We will listen to interventions presenting global perspectives on the crucial climate challenges we all face. And we will hear suggestions on how to address these challenges.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Outside this hall, Copenhagen is covered in snow. The cold weather makes for a beautiful, almost fairytale-like, setting. But we are gathered here today to confront a very different reality: our planet is warming.

We are here because only determined global action can stem this growing challenge. The impressive group of distinguished leaders present here sends a clear signal. The level of political commitment has never been higher. We must seize this opportunity today. The time to act is now.

No nation - however large or small, wealthy or poor - can escape the impact of climate change. Global warming knows no borders. It does not discriminate. It affects us all.

The solution is complex, but we know what needs to be done. We know that the future of our planet depends on a global commitment to permanently reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

You have decided to come to Copenhagen. This shows the world that climate change is no longer just an issue for environment ministers and NGO’s.

Climate change is real. It is serious. It is urgent. And it is growing. It affects our economy and our security. It is an issue of the highest national and international priority.

For too many years, mankind has been slow to recognize the magnitude of the climate threat. And our response has been insufficient. Today marks a new beginning.

The process over the last three years that has brought us here today has already generated concrete political action all over the world. Almost all major economies have developed targets and regulations for green house gas emissions. Science on climate change has evolved. Common understanding of the problem has spread to all corners of society. For young people, climate change is now the prime imperative for international cooperation. Business is embracing and developing green tech at an unprecedented pace. The world is changing.

We are changing because we have to change. Because our populations demand it. Because it is in our fundamental national interest. Because we have a moral obligation towards future generations.

I remain deeply convinced that this is what the world expects and what science demands. And I hope that we can maintain this vision – not just today – but also for the years to come. Today does not mark the end of our work, but rather the beginning.

It is not often we as leaders get a chance to chart out a new course for our planet. We stand before one of these rare and defining moments in history. Future generations will judge us on our ability to translate the current political momentum and commitment and make this conference a decisive moment of change.

Now we must chart the course of the future of our planet.

I sincerely hope that you have come here with the clear message that December 18th 2009 marks the beginning of a bright and green future!

Thank you.

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