21 December 2009
Secretary-General
SG/SM/12680
ENV/DEV/1102

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

Collective Action Only Effective Way, Secretary-General Tells Copenhagen

 

Closing Plenary, Stressing Importance of Continued Top-level Engagement


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the closing plenary of the Fifteenth Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in Copenhagen on 19 December:


It's a great pleasure to work with you in addressing climate change.  We have had a long and exhausting final two days.  Some of you have been working day and night during the last two weeks.  The negotiations continued all day today and yesterday, and it has been extremely difficult.


Sometimes there were some emotional, quite heated, quite dramatic discussions.  I hope our heated discussions have not helped in increasing global warming.  You have shown extreme and enormous strength, commitment, patience and resolve, and I really appreciate it.


At the same time, I would like to take this opportunity [to say] that in the course of adopting this decision, I know that many delegations have expressed concerns, and some protests, sometimes frustration and anger for the level of transparency.  We started in good faith, as transparent as possible, and this document, in fact, started from a bottom-up process.  We really tried to accommodate and reflect all of your wishes and concerns.


In that regard, I would like to thank Prime Minister [Lars Lokke] Rasmussen of Denmark for his leadership and perseverance and patience.  I think this week the leaders of the world came and showed what leadership means.  They went to the brink and pulled back.


We have taken a significant step towards a global agreement to limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  The agreement may not satisfy all.  I know that both developed and developing countries are not all happy.  But I believe that through this adoption of the Copenhagen Accord, you will be able to get everything you need, even though not all of us have achieved all we wanted.  Many will say it lacks ambition.  Nonetheless, you have achieved much.  This is a significant deal.


At the Summit I convened in New York last September, I laid out four benchmarks for success for this Conference.  We have achieved results on each.  All countries have agreed to work towards a common and long-term goal to limit global temperature rise to below 2˚ Celsius.  We have progress on protecting forests, adaptation for the most vulnerable, fast-start financing and a way forward on long-term financing.  We have $30 billion over three years and $100 billion until 2020.


Developed countries have strengthened emission reductions.  Developing countries have offered significant actions to limit the growth of their emissions below business as usual.  There is convergence on the importance of transparent reporting and verification.  All countries share in these accomplishments.  You sealed a deal.  Now all must share in turning words into deeds.  Immediate implementation is crucial.


We have three tasks going forward.  First, we must transform this agreement into a legally binding treaty next year.  We know this will not be easy, but the promise of this important deal will only be fully realized once it is codified into international law.  Second, we must launch the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund as soon as possible.  It must deliver immediate results to people in need.  It must jump-start clean energy growth in developing countries.  Prime Minister [Meles] Zenawi of Ethiopia has been and will continue to work on this issue.  The United Nations will support you at every step.  We will assist you to deliver green growth and strengthen climate resilience.


Third, we need to pursue the road of higher ambition, not follow the path of least resistance.  Current mitigation commitments still fail to meet the scientific bottom line that will minimize the risk of climate change.  The consequences will be serious.


Collective action is the only effective action.  This deal could not have happened without the participation of Heads of State and Government.  Never in history have so many world leaders directly engaged in global negotiations of such immense complexity and consequences.  I have never seen so many Heads of State and Government participating in drafting exercise sessions.  It is remarkable, and I take this opportunity and express my most sincere admiration and respect to all the leaders who have participated, and particularly to those who have participated in drafting this Accord.


Going forward, their continued direct engagement is essential.  This is the pre-eminent leadership challenge of our time.  I urge world leaders to stay engaged and follow through on what they have accomplished here.  You have risen to the challenge at this Conference, despite the difficulties of this complex negotiation.


Today we have taken a significant step forward, but let me be clear:  the road ahead is still very long.  Climate change remains the defining challenge of our time.  The journey will be difficult, but it is one we must make.  And it is one we must make together.  The science demands it.  The global economy needs it.  And the lives and well-being of billions depends on it.  Thank you very much for your commitment.


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For information media • not an official record