25 September 2008

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




Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s closing remarks at the event hosted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in New York, today, 25 September:

It is a great pleasure to take part in this discussion.  As everybody knows by this time, I have called climate change a defining issue of our era, and I have taken it as the highest priority in the agenda as Secretary-General.  I am therefore especially grateful to you for highlighting the ways in which climate change threatens to undermine our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, as has been very succinctly summarized -- climate change hinders the progress of the Millennium Development Goals.

We see new evidence every day.

Glaciers are melting at unprecedented rates, threatening freshwater resources.

Erratic rainfall and extreme weather associated with climate change are jeopardizing agriculture, compounding the food crisis and hindering our efforts to eradicate hunger.

Drought in Africa forces women to walk greater distances -– as much as 10 to 15 kilometres a day -- to fetch water.  This keeps young girls out of school, which is an obstacle to both gender and education goals.

This weighs heaviest on the poorest of the poor, who have neither the resources nor the capacity to cope.

All of us -- Governments, UN bodies, non-governmental organizations, the business community -- need to better understand the links between climate change and the Millennium Development Goals.  That would ensure that our responses are scientifically and economically sound.  In a sense, we need to “climate proof” our activities, to the extent possible.

We know what we need to do, and by when.  The science is very clear.  I believe IPCC could contribute even more to consensus building by including more developing-country expertise in its assessment.  This would promote universal ownership of its conclusions, and ensure that negotiations are anchored even more deeply in science.

Those negotiations are crucial to our common future.  Our common priority must be a deal to be agreed for the post-2012 arrangements by December 2009 in Copenhagen.

Our first test will come in less than three months.

We need to come out of the climate change meetings in Poznań, Poland, with a strong political signal on strengthening financial and technology transfer mechanisms to help developing countries with adaptation and mitigation.

We need a concrete workplan for 2009 that will enable parties to engage in real negotiations without delay.

When it comes to climate change, delay is not like a delay in reaching other types of agreements.  We cannot just pick up a couple of years from now and resume as if nothing has happened.

Science tells us that such an approach courts disaster.

Economics tells us that the costs would only rise.  I have been saying that the cost of inaction will be far, far greater than the cost of action now.

And our own eyes, not to mention common sense, should tell us that acting now is in everyone’s interest.

It is time to move beyond national positions and harness our sense of a united purpose, and of a responsibility to generations beyond our own.

There is no more time to lose.  We must reach an inclusive, comprehensive and ratifiable deal by December 2009.

The United Nations system, and I personally, will spare no effort in supporting Member States as we tackle this shared responsibility.  As part of my continuing commitment in making this institution structured, recently I have appointed two more Special Envoys on Climate Change.  One is the former President of Botswana, [Festus] Mogae, and the former President of the General Assembly, Srgjan Kerim.  Now we have four Special Envoys on Climate Change who will work with Governments and business communities and non-governmental organizations, and all other concerned parties.  I hope that you will also actively participate and speak out in addressing this challenge of our era.

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For information media • not an official record