Stick to commitment to fight climate change: UN chief (Lead)

December 12th, 2008 - 1:35 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaPoznan (Poland), Dec 11 (IANS) Do not slide back in your commitment to fight global warming, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Thursday urged ministers from around the world gathered here for the climate change summit.Hours after speaking at the opening of the “high-level segment” of the Dec 1-12 summit, Ban Ki-moon sought leadership from all countries over the issue. He was speaking in the backdrop of a situation where industrialised countries have been going back on their commitments citing the financial crisis.

In his speech, the UN chief praised India’s plan to fight global warming and the steps being taken by developing countries, while asking the industrialised world to show leadership.

Asked by IANS at his press conference why he did that and if he felt that leadership on fighting climate change was moving from industrialised to developing countries, Ban Ki-moon said: “I’m seeking leadership from all - no one country can address this issue - it requires concerted global action, though the capacity to address it may vary depending on where you come from.

“There are certain countries on whom I have urged leadership. This fight against climate change should be led by developed countries, considering historical responsibilities and level of capacity and resources.

“But you can’t ask any country or group of countries to go first - we have to go hand in hand based on common but differentiated responsibilities.”

He also said he had spoken to US president-elect Barack Obama. “He assured me and confirmed that he would take climate change as a priority.”

The UN chief said he was thinking of convening a meeting of heads of state to fight climate change during the next General Assembly session in New York, in September, “depending on progress of negotiations towards a treaty in time for Copenhagen”.

That will be shortly before the next climate change summit in Copenhagen next December, by when a new global treaty is expected to be in place.

“This is a very delicate and complicated multilateral negotiation,” Ban Ki-moon pointed out. “Engagement of heads of state will be very necessary and important to unblock these crunches. I’ll discuss this with (UN) member states.”

He was referring to the many issues left unresolved at the Poznan summit, and with which ministers were grappling till late Thursday evening.

UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary identified these unresolved issues as the operationalisation of an Adaptation Fund to help least developed countries cope with climate change effects and reform of the clean development mechanism meant to help developing countries move towards a greener economy.

Ban Ki-moon said the negotiations must lead to an “agreement by the end of next year must be effective, balanced and ratifiable by all countries”.

Talking about progress towards such an agreement, the UN chief said: “There has been progress but much more needs to be done. There must be no backsliding on previous commitments.”

In his morning speech, Ban Ki-moon had said: “Together, we face two crises: climate change and the global economy. But these crises present us with a great opportunity - an opportunity to address both challenges simultaneously.

“Managing the global financial crisis requires massive global stimulus. A big part of that spending should be an investment - an investment in a green future.

“An investment that fights climate change, creates millions of green jobs and spurs green growth. We need a green new deal.”

“India has launched a comprehensive National Climate Change Action Plan that lays out the path for shifting to greater reliance on sustainable sources of energy, particularly solar power,” the UN chief noted. “This is the way of the future, a future we must all embrace.”

Ban ki Moon exhorted the ministers gathered for the high-level segment of the summit to overcome three challenges:

“First, you must agree on a work plan for next year’s negotiations. Second, you need to sketch out the critical elements of a long-term vision. We need a basic framework of cooperative action starting today, not in 2012.

“Within this framework, industrialised countries must set ambitious long-term goals, coupled with mid-term emission reduction targets.

“Developing countries need to limit the growth of their emissions as well. To do so, they will need robust financial and technological support - not just promises, but tangible results.

“Third, we must re-commit ourselves to the urgency of our cause. This requires leadership - your leadership,” he told the ministers. “We must keep climate change at the top of national agendas.”

“Let us save ourselves from catastrophe and usher in a truly sustainable world.”

(Joydeep Gupta can be contacted at joydeep.g@ians.in)

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