United Nations Environment Programme

Quotes from World Leaders on Climate Change


Courtesy of United Nations Environment Programme

'We will not solve this problem if we do not each take our share of the responsibility for tackling it. Nobody can protect themselves from climate change unless we protect each other by building a global basis for climate security.  To put it starkly, if we all try to free ride, we will all end up in free fall, with accelerating climate change the result of our collective failure to respond in time to this shared threat.'
Margaret Becket Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
'As an island nation comprised mostly of low-lying small islands with large coastal areas, the FSM is vulnerable to the adverse impact of climate change. Exposed to the effects of extreme weather events, our livelihood and traditions as island people, in fact our whole civilization, are under greater threat than ever before. The sad irony is that those of us who have little to contribute to the causes of climate change and sea level rise are the first in line to suffer the consequences.'
Redley Killion, Vice President, Federated States of Micronesia
'The earth is warming at an alarming rate, we are running out of fossil fuels, and it is long past time for us to take action to correct these problems.' 
Bill Clinton, Former President of the United States of America
'I’m no longer sceptical. I no longer have any doubt at all. I think climate change is the major challenge facing the world.'

Sir David Attenborough
'Climate change is not just an environmental issue, as too many people still believe. It is an all encompassing threat. It is a threat to health, since a warmer world is one in which infectious diseases such as malaria and yellow fever will spread further and faster. It could imperil the world’s food supply, as rising temperatures and prolonged drought render fertile areas unfit for grazing or crops. It could endanger the very ground on which nearly half the worlds population Live -coastal cities such as Lagos or Cape Town, which face inundation from sea levels rising as a result of inciting icecaps and glaciers.'
Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations
'Climate change has become a highly political issue, involving very large economic interest. The long-term character of the problems is daunting; investment decisions will have consequences for infrastructure and energy systems that will stretch over many decades. Social tensions may appear in the wake of action to counter climate change.'
Bo Kjellén, Former Swedish Ambassador and Chief Negotiator for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
'Amplification of the Earth’s natural greenhouse effect by the build-up of various gases introduced by human activity has the potential to produce dramatic changes in climate. Only by taking action now can we ensure that future generations will not be put at risk.'
49 Nobel Prize winners and 700 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 1990
'As long as it’s ice nobody cares except us, because we hunt and fish and travel on that ice. However, the minute it starts to thaw and becomes water, then the whole world is interested.'
Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Chair of Inuit Circumpolar Council, commenting on commercial interest in an ice-free Arctic
'Human activities are increasingly altering the Earth’s climate. These effects add to natural influences that have been present over Earth’s history. Scientific evidence strongly indicates that natural influences cannot explain the rapid increase in global near-surface temperatures observed during the second half of the 20th century.'
American Geophysical Union, 2003
'Some of our islands are only a few meters wide in places. Imagine standing on one of these islands with waves pounding on one side and the lagoon on the other. It’s frightening.'
Nakibae Tauatabo, Chief climate negotiator for Kiribati, 2000
'To the reticent nations, including the United States, I say this: there is such a thing as a global conscience and now is the time to listen to it.' 
Paul Martin, Former Canadian Prime Minister, 2005

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