Lithuanian President Grybauskaite stated at COP 21 in Paris, ’in over 25 years of independence, atmospheric pollution has been reduced as much as 56 percent.’

With Paris still on terror alert, an impressive number of world leaders showed up in the “City of Light” to attend the UN World Conference on Climate Change

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the Family Photo of Leaders at COP21
Close to 150 world leaders, including Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė, gathered in Paris, France for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 21), which started on November 30, 2015. Here we see UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon posing for a group photo with leaders from across the globe. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė spoke on the first day that COP 21 opened, namely, November 30. On the same day, US President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko were scheduled to address the 12-day summit which will close on December 11, 2015.

The Prime Minster of Estonia, Taavi Roivas, His Serene Highness Albert II, the Sovereign Prince of Monaco, and Erna Solberg, Prime Minster of Norway, were also scheduled to speak at COP 21, among many other world leaders. Latvian President

Raimonds Vejonis, often called the “EU’s first green President” stated at COP 21 that any deal reached in Paris, should be legally binding.

 The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and French President Francois Hollande is playing a prominent role at the UN Climate Change Summit in Paris which attracted 40,00 participants and over 3,000 journalists. As Lithuanian President Grybauskaitė stated, “the Paris conference aims to reach a global agreement to further reduce climate change after the second Kyoto commitment period ends in 2020. “

 

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is pictured here with Francois Hollande, President of France, at the Elysee Palace in Paris. COP 21 is hosted and chaired by France, and Laurent Fabius is the President of the summit. Due to security concerns following November 13, COP 21 was held in Le Bourget, a suburb of Paris. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is pictured here with Francois Hollande, President of France, at the Elysee Palace in Paris. COP 21 is hosted and chaired by France, and Laurent Fabius is the President of the summit. Due to security concerns following November 13, COP 21 was held in Le Bourget, a suburb of Paris. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas.

 

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is pictured here with Francois Hollande, President of France, at the Elysee Palace in Paris. COP 21 is hosted and chaired by France, and Laurent Fabius is the President of the summit. Due to security concerns following November 13, COP 21 was held in Le Bourget, a suburb of Paris. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas.

As the Lithuanian President stated at COP 21 in Paris, “Lithuania has successfully proved that the sustainable development of the state can be nature-friendly, and that in over 25 years of independence, Lithuania has reduced atmospheric pollution by as much as 56 percent. In addition, we produce 23 percent of our total energy from renewables, and our economy has grown by one third over the same period.”

She also pointed out that a global agreement binding all countries to combat climate change is useful for Lithuania as it increases energy security, reduces dependence on fossil fuel imports, encourages businesses and industry to invest into renewables, energy efficiency, and innovative green technology.

Here’s what President Grybauskaitė had to say in her address to world leaders at COP 21 in Paris: “In today’s world we cannot isolate ourselves from the global challenges. No country is immune to climate change. The climate change is real and its impact is felt across the world.”

She added. “the expansion of the deserts, shortage of drinking water, increase in famine, are among the reasons for the largest movement of people and even military conflicts. Our failure to act now will result in irreversible consequences, which will effect everyone. “

 

When UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hosted the Climate Summit 2014 at UN Headquarters In New York, he asked world leaders for a meaningful legal agreement in 2015. Lithuanian President Grybauskaitė attended the Climate Summit in New York during 2014, and in 2015, delivered a strong statement at COP 21 in Paris. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas.
When UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hosted the Climate Summit 2014 at UN Headquarters In New York, he asked world leaders for a meaningful legal agreement in 2015. Lithuanian President Grybauskaitė attended the Climate Summit in New York during 2014, and in 2015, delivered a strong statement at COP 21 in Paris. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas.

 

When UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hosted the Climate Summit 2014 at UN Headquarters In New York, he asked world leaders for a meaningful legal agreement in 2015. Lithuanian President Grybauskaitė attended the Climate Summit in New York during 2014, and in 2015, delivered a strong statement at COP 21 in Paris. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas.

The President then asked the following question: “What do we need to succeed in Paris? Firstly, all countries, big and small, developing and developed, should commit to ambitious and legally binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We, as the European Union, will cut emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030 compared to the 1990 level. All biggest emitters should show responsibility to achieve our goal –global warming limited to two degrees.”

She went on to say: “Lithuanian experience proves that there is no contradiction between economic growth and environment protection. Our emission levels in the last 25 years fell by more than half while our GDP increased by 30 per cent during this period. Secondly, we need to guarantee that climate change commitments are fully respected. “

“Thirdly, financial support to reduce emissions in developing countries should be result-oriented. The EU and its Member States are major providers of climate financing – delivering l4.5 billion euros in 2014. However, quality not quantity of financial spending will be decisive tackling the climate change. “

“Finally,” she said, “agreement will increase our security. Dependence on fossil fuel and lack of alternative energy sources makes us vulnerable. We witness the situation where our energy demand finances terrorist networks by oil and gas money. The time has come to take global decisions. The only way to guarantee our safe future is to approve a universally binding agreement in Paris. “

Shown here is Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of the Republic of Lithuania, addressing the issue of “violent extremism” during the UN general debate earlier in the year, marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. Whether in Paris, New York, or any other city, nowadays, security has taken on added importance. UN Photo/C
Shown here is Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of the Republic of Lithuania, addressing the issue of “violent extremism” during the UN general debate earlier in the year, marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. Whether in Paris, New York, or any other city, nowadays, security has taken on added importance. UN Photo/Cia Pak.

Weeks before the horrific terrorist attacks that took place in Paris on November l3, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė spoke out on “violent extremism” in the UN general debate at UN Headquarters. Here is what the Lithuanian President said on September 29, 2015:

 As the Lithuanian President put it. “violent extremism is on the rise, with terrorist groups demonstrating new levels of brutality and barbarity.” She pointed out, “in the 21st century, women and girls are sold on slave markets by the criminals of ISIS and abused in unspeakable ways.” In addition, the Lithuanian President added that “we have entered an era where the most primitive and brutal executions co-exist with the most sophisticated information, hybrid and cyber warfare.”

Following the November 13 massacre in Paris, President Grybauskaitė went to the “City of Light” to express her condolences to French President Francois Hollande. In the book of condolences, the Lithuanian President wrote: “Such horrific brutality cannot be justified and must face rightful justice and condemnation.”

During her visit to Paris, the Lithuanian President attended the Leaders Forum of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The leaders in the forum observed a Minute of Silence in memory of victims of the November 13 terror attacks.

 Following the terror attacks in Paris, the city of Brussels, Belgium, home of the European Union and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), which Lithuania belongs to, was locked down for four days.          

 In her address to world leaders in the General Assembly Hall, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė didn’t mince words when she addressed such issues as Russia’s annexation of Crimea and military aggression in eastern Ukraine, and the UN’s collective failure to stand up for the underlying principles of independence, sovereignty, and the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

As President Grybauskaitė stated, “In the middle of Europe, the UN Charter has been breached with no consequences. Last year, Russia annexed Crimea, and she said that “the Kremlin seeks to rewrite history and redraw the borders of post-war Europe. “

In addition, she emphasized that “even in the context of the multiple crises and security challenges the world is facing today, the annexation of Crimea and military aggression in eastern Ukraine stand out because of their implications for the future of international peace and security.”

As Lithuanian President Grybauskaite explained, “these acts strike at the very core of the international law and the universally accepted norms of behavior that have allowed the world community to survive without world wars for seven decades.“ As the President stated, “we cannot pledge respect for the UN Charter and ignore its breaches at the same time.”

She made it clear, too, that “our collective failure to stand up for the underlying principles of Independence, sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity of Ukraine would have far reaching negative repercussions for the international order. The occupied territories of Ukraine, Georgia, or Moldova are full of red lines that we have drawn, but never acted upon.”

 “Again, we are reminded”, she went on to say, ”that if you close your eyes to crimes, they do not disappear, they spread, grow. and finally they take over. That is why it is our duty to uphold the international, humanitarian and human rights law, and to seek accountability when these laws are violated. “   

The Lithuanian President also stressed the important role of the UN Security Council in maintaining international peace and security. She mentioned, in particular, that “vetoing a Security Council resolution commemorating the Srebrenica massacre, or a tribunal for the downing of MH17 is unjustifiable and an insult to the memory of the victims.”

“It also raises questions about the relevance in the 21st century of the Security Council as it is today”. the Lithuanian President remarked. “For the Council to maintain its credibility, the least it can do is put an end to the use of veto in the cases of genocide, atrocity crimes, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.”

She asked this most relevant question, too: “Where would we be today had the Council been able to secure proper humanitarian access in Syria? Had it taken measures to stop the use of barrel bombs and ensure accountability for gross human rights violations and abuses? According to the Lithuanian President, “the Security Council failed to do so, and millions of Syrians had to flee. By protecting the criminals, the four vetoes on Syria resolution did nothing to resolve the situation. As a result, today we have the largest humanitarian crisis in the world.”

According to Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, “it is a global crisis that requires a global response. Unless we address the causes that make people flee their homes – such as lawlessness, repressions. and grave human rights abuses, corruption, and bad governance, massive inequalities and marginalization – these flows will not stop. Conflicts will continue. Lawlessness breeds the worst of the worst, extremists, radicals, and terrorists. We simply cannot afford this to happen.

In closing, the Lithuanian President said:

“the United Nations will cease to exist if people stop believing in it. Through our reinforced activities after the founding of the United Nations, we must show that we continue to believe firmly in this Organization that we share.”

Ann Charles
Ann Charles is UN Bureau Chief of “Baltic Review” based in New York City. She covers diplomatic activities at United Nations Headquarters in New York and the world body’s work in human rights, education, culture, the environment, and tourism, among other global concerns.