(Disponible uniquement en anglais)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This summer we were all once again struck by scenes of desolation and anguish, brought about by climate disruptions.
In Pakistan, twenty-one million people have fled the flooding since the end of July. Thousands of villages have been destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of people have been left homeless. Unless there is a marked improvement in sanitary conditions, an incalculable number of people could die from cholera, pulmonary diseases and malnutrition.
At the same time, fires ravaged Russia, forcing the people of Moscow to wear masks to protect themselves from toxic fumes. Faced with the threat of fire, the public authorities had to act swiftly to ensure the security of Russia's nuclear installations.
You were one of the first to sound the alarm and alert public opinion to the global warming brought about by human activity.
For nearly thirty years, you have worked tirelessly to make us realise the consequences of climate change for our ecosystems, agriculture, water resources and health.
Through your research, the arguments you have presented, and your work within the IPCC, you have also transformed this climatic threat into an opportunity to reflect on the long-term future of our planet.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the short term turns us into prisoners of our immediate interests. In contrast, the long term breaks down barriers and expands our horizons. Taking a long-term view enables us to take integrated action and to develop a comprehensive vision.
This comprehensive vision is the only one that will work. We will not win the climate battle without also combating world poverty. The challenges that our planet faces are on such a scale that we will either survive together or perish together. This is what sustainable development is all about.
To be sure, taking a long-term view is no easy task. The cynics and sceptics, those who deny the link between human activity and global warming, have been quick to sow doubts and dispute long-term forecasts.
But it is an essential task, and must be encouraged, since to navigate by sight in thick fog on a stormy sea is the best way to run aground.
However, taking a long-term view must not become an excuse for shirking responsibilities. We must think in the long term, but act quickly, since time is running out.
In a few weeks, the 16th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will be held in Cancun. We are all hoping to see significant progress towards a comprehensive agreement on climate. The European Union and the current Belgian Presidency will have an especially important role to play in forging the necessary compromises.
Today you have become an honorary member of the European Chapter of the Club of Rome, of which I am proud to be honorary president.
Under the enthusiastic and dynamic leadership of its president, Mark Dubrulle, it too is making a contribution to the long-term reflection that I value so highly on the challenges faced by our country, by Europe, and by our planet.
Above all, I would today like to thank you, and to encourage you to continue your courageous work on behalf of sustainable development.
You have my sincere thanks.