24 September 2008
Secretary-General
SG/SM/11811
ENV/DEV/1006

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

SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS AT PRESS CONFERENCE ON CLIMATE CHANGE


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at a joint press conference on climate change with Lech Kaczyński, President of Poland; Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark; and Hassan Wirajuda, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, at Headquarters 24 September:


The Secretary-General:  Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the media.


It is a great pleasure for me to join together with His Excellency President Kaczynski of Poland, His Excellency Prime Minister Rasmussen of Denmark and His Excellency the Foreign Minister of Indonesia, Dr. Hassan Wirajuda.  They are the current and future presidencies of the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change].  In view of the coming Poznan Climate Change Conference, we have established an informal consultation group, together with the three leaders of the three countries.  We first had a video conference on September 12, and today we had a meeting together with the leaders of these very important countries, and I am very much pleased to have this press conference on the most daunting challenges facing the international community.


I have reiterated on numerous occasions that climate change is a defining issue of our time.  The impacts of climate change are increasingly apparent in various parts of the world.  The science is clear, and we need to take action now.  The world is waiting.


Climate change must be considered in the context of sustainable development.  It is closely linked to other global issues such as food security, energy, trade, finance and health.


I have identified climate change as one of my top priorities, and I am personally committed to help the international community meet the daunting challenges of fighting climate change.


The Bali road map was a significant breakthrough.  The new UNFCCC negotiations process, launched by the Bali Action Plan last December, created increased political momentum and renewed hope that an effective multilateral response to the climate crises is possible and attainable if we rise to the challenge of our time, act in good faith and responsibly, and if national leaders are able to rise above their immediate national concerns and look after the global good.


I will do all I can to facilitate a global deal by the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009.


It is now clear that, in order to achieve the needed outcome -- that is, an inclusive, comprehensive and ratifiable treaty by Copenhagen -- the negotiations need to be elevated to the highest political levels.  I have established, as I said, an informal process with the leaders of the presiding countries of the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC over the negotiations period to strengthen political leadership, continuity and consistency in conducting the negotiations.  This will be an important vehicle, through which we can enlist additional leaders to participate in the process at the highest level.


We held the first such meeting through video conference on 12 September.  I was very much encouraged by the strong commitment demonstrated by all the three leaders, of Indonesia, Poland and Denmark, for moving the UNFCCC process forward and expediting the ongoing negotiations.  I am very grateful to them.


We jointly organized this press conference to share with you our political expectations, and about the challenges ahead.


We all agreed that the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznan -- or COP-14 -- is a crucial bridge to Copenhagen.  The importance of the political leadership of Poland in hosting COP-14 was underlined by all of us.  There was a consensus that we need to make real progress in key areas in Poznan, so that we can rebuild momentum by agreeing to a clearly defined 2009 work programme for the negotiations that will deliver a result in Copenhagen; second, come to a common understanding of a shared vision for long-term cooperative action -- including on the institutional architecture that is adequate for the challenge posed by climate change; third, ensure that the Adaptation Fund is ready to receive and finance projects without further delay, including by encouraging generous voluntary contributions; and fourth, it is imperative that developed countries send a clear signal that they are ready to discharge their responsibilities with regards to emissions reductions and financing to support developing countries’ own actions on climate change.


Furthermore, the leaders of the COP presidency and I as the Secretary-General will use all public events, including those on finance and trade, to promote those common positions.


It was also agreed that this informal high-level political effort engaging the leaders of the COP Presidents must be expanded at a later stage to include more leaders from interested and proactive countries to provide political guidance, not only to their negotiators in the UNFCCC process, but also to their various ministers in charge of environment, trade, energy, agriculture and finance, to lay the foundations for an enabling domestic environment and to empower negotiators on all aspects.


During the next few months, I will consider facilitating some informal, and also formal, gatherings in the course of 2009 to help maintain and increase the political momentum and to consider the broad political-economic context which should guide the climate change negotiations towards success.


I will continue to consult with leaders and ministers to discuss options for such initiatives.  I will also continue my consultations with the leaders of the COP presidency in preparations for the Poznan Conference, and we will collectively continue to promote our common position, which I just highlighted.


Thank you very much for your attention.


Question: Here is a question for the Secretary-General.  The United Nations is involved with so many issues.  Yet, today, in the American newspapers there is a lot of reaction to President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad’s speech here yesterday.  How would you tell people who criticize the fact that he was here, and that sometimes drowns out the other issues that the United Nations deals with?


The Secretary-General: Are you asking this question in relationship to climate change?


Our United Nations is composed of 192 Member States.  This is the venue where all the Member States can participate and exchange their views for all the agenda items of our international community.  In that regard, it should be guaranteed and assured that everybody can speak their own positions freely.  However, when we are addressing many global challenges, like climate change, development issues, the global food crisis and energy issues -- and on top of these we are experiencing very serious global financial crisis -- therefore, I hope the leaders participating in this General Assembly will focus their leadership and their wisdom and their political will in addressing those very serious global issues -- economic, or political, or whatever.  That’s my real wish, as the Secretary-General: that this Organization should be the place where we can resolve all these issue with dialogue, and any other rhetoric which is not helpful in addressing these issues should better be refrained.


Question: My question is for Mr. Secretary-General.  We know that about nine countries have already expressed their formal interest in receiving assistance through UN-REDD programmes.  So, my question is, are you optimistic that this initiative will affect (inaudible) that climate change from deforestation?


The Secretary-General: In fact, I’m going to have a press conference launching the UN-REDD programme, together with the Prime Minister of Norway and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).  As you may be fully aware, greenhouse gas emissions emanating from deforestation takes almost 20 per cent -- exactly 17 per cent or so.  So, this is the third largest factor affecting this global warming phenomenon.  Therefore, this initiative, which will be launched very soon, soon after this, is very much an important initiative.  The United Nations and all these three United Nations agencies and many donor countries will closely coordinate which countries should be assisted in their efforts in addressing deforestation issues.


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For information media • not an official record