20 November 2009

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

More Ambitious Agreement in Copenhagen Can More Quickly Be Codified in Treaty,


Says Secretary-General to General Assembly Informal Meeting


Following are Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s closing remarks to the Informal Meeting of the Plenary on Climate Change, in New York, on 19 November:

Thank you very much Mr. [General Assembly] President and I thank many distinguished delegations who made very useful and constructive comments, and suggestions on behalf of a group of countries, or in their individual capacity.

I hear the deep concern of the Group of 77 and China, and also member States of the [Alliance of Small Island States] AOSIS about there being a “major setback”, or disappointment, because there may not be a treaty agreed in December in Copenhagen.

Let me suggest that we still have everything to play for.  Therefore, it should not be seen as a failure from the beginning.  It will be an important and decisive foundation towards a legally binding treaty.

We are not lowering our expectations.  We are not compromising our principles.  Copenhagen can witness a concrete agreement that will have immediate operational effect ‑‑ unlocking resources immediately to begin the transition to green growth.

The agreement can also take decisions that will have immediate effect on deforestation, technology transfer, and capacity-building.

The agreement can, and must, also include concrete commitments on mitigation ‑‑ what all countries are doing, and are prepared to do.

Let me again emphasize, that our end goal must remain a treaty, a legally binding treaty.  The more ambitious the agreement we reach in Copenhagen, the more quickly this can be codified in a treaty as early as possible in 2010. In that regard, I support many delegations’ suggestions that there should be a target date.

Again, I fully share particularly the concerns and plight of many small island developing States.  I know it is a matter of existence itself.  You may remember that I attended, last September, the Summit meeting of AOSIS and expressed my full support, and sympathy, and understanding on their position.  That is why we are paying great and utmost importance in addressing the challenges of small island developing States and landlocked least developed countries.  I am sure that their concerns and positions will be fully reflected in the negotiations process.

I am fully committed, and I’m continuing to discuss this matter, and will urge as strongly and as much as I can.  I have been engaging in a videoconference weekly with many world leaders these days.  This will continue, and I’m going to participate in the Summit meeting of the Commonwealth States which will be held next week in Trinidad and Tobago.  I’ve been invited, together with Prime Minister [Lars Løkke] Rasmussen of Denmark, to participate in that meeting.  Prime Minister [Patrick] Manning of Trinidad and Tobago has specially arranged a very important session, one full afternoon on Saturday, to discuss with the 54 Heads of State and Government attending this Commonwealth Summit meeting in Trinidad and Tobago.  There, I will again urge all the leaders to come to Copenhagen with a strong and dedicated commitment to “Seal the Deal” in Copenhagen.

As one of the distinguished Ambassadors said, “We cannot win the battle against climate change.”  And you may remember that I said, “We cannot negotiate with nature.”

The time is now for us to act, and I count on your continued commitment and leadership.

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For information media • not an official record