30 July 2007
General Assembly

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York




The United Nations General Assembly will consider how to translate the growing scientific consensus on climate change into a broad political consensus for action during a two-day thematic debate that begins on 31 July.

The debate, which will feature prominent scientists, business leaders and United Nations officials, is expected to raise awareness and momentum for action on climate change, in preparation for the Secretary-General’s high-level event in September and for the climate change conference that will take place in Bali this December.

“This debate is a testimony to the political importance of addressing climate change,” said Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa of Bahrain, President of the General Assembly.  “We will need political action if we are to protect our environment, secure our planet and safeguard our future, for our children and generations to come.  This is one of the greatest challenges of our time.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has reported this year that the world’s temperature warmed by 0.74°C during the last century and that it is likely to rise 3°C in this century, unless measures are taken to reduce the rate of warming.  The Panel found that the evidence that warming was occurring is unequivocal and that it is due to human activities.

The two-day meeting will feature interactive panel discussions with climate change experts, a plenary debate with statements on national strategies and international commitments by Member States, as well as addresses by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and two of his Special Envoys on Climate Change, former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos and former Korean Foreign Minister Han Seung-soo.

The debate, which will mark the first time the General Assembly has ever devoted a session exclusively to a discussion of climate change in plenary, will be made carbon neutral.  “The emissions from the air travel to bring experts to the debate and the entire carbon-dioxide emissions of the United Nations Headquarters are being offset by investment in a biomass fuel project in Kenya,” Sheikha Haya said.

The fuel switch project in Kenya supports the use of agricultural waste instead of traditional fossil fuels to power a crude palm oil refinery, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating new economic opportunities for local farmers.

For the General Assembly programme, see www.un.org/ga/president/61/follow-up/climatechange/programme.shtml.

For more information or interviews, please contact Dan Shepard, United Nations Department of Public Information, tel: 212 963 9495, fax: 212 963 1186, email: mediainfo@un.org.

Media representatives without United Nations credentials who wish to attend the meeting should contact the Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit, United Nations Department of Public Information, tel: 212 963 2318, fax: 212 963 4642.

The sessions will be webcast live at www.un.org/webcast.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record