|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
PRESS CONFERENCE BY executive secretary OF UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, told correspondent at a Headquarters press conference this afternoon that the outcome of the recent meeting of the “Group of 8+5” Environment Ministers in Germany had been “unexpectedly encouraging”, marked by a broad acceptance of the scientific evidence regarding the role of humans in climate change.
Participants in the meeting -- the Group of 8 countries plus China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa -- had recognized that urgent action was needed “in line with [suggestions of] the scientific community”, said Mr. de Boer. Such consensus was timely, especially with the commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol set to end in 2012, and the international community nearing the stage where it must embark on negotiations for a new mechanism to address climate change.
Based on the outcome of the Germany meeting, Mr. de Boer said the post-Kyoto framework, to be negotiated in the context of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, would likely emphasize technological cooperation and the use of market-oriented incentives to maintain high environmental standards, although Kyoto-style targets would probably continue in countries where such incentives were found helpful. For the best results, Governments should conclude their negotiations by 2010 at the latest, so that there was no gap between the Kyoto Protocol’s end and the entry into force of the new mechanism, he added.
Another encouraging development at the Group of 8+5 meeting was the growing sentiment among developing countries that they needed to make “a quantum leap” in their development, while avoiding the mistakes of industrialized countries. Participants at the meeting had been supportive about the international carbon market, which was estimated at $30 billion, saying it had led to a growth in investments in developing countries targeted at reducing emissions, as well as to a North-South transfer of technology.
Indeed, climate change, once viewed exclusively as an environmental problem, had been recognized to be deeply intertwined with trade, economics and transport issues, Mr. de Boer said. Talk at the meeting had focused on ensuring that the future of countries was “climate proof”, through stricter household appliance and automobile standards and the application of targets and tax incentives to encourage good environmental behaviour.
He said a second meeting was expected to take place in Germany, this time involving the Heads of State of the Group of 8+5 countries. But while agreements reached at the Group of 8+5 gathering were “wonderful”, Mr. de Boer said addressing the issue at the United Nations would ensure wider impact. The Group of 8+5 meeting, for example, had not included affected countries such as small island developing States, who deserved just as much room at the table. “It is true that, sometimes, or maybe often, [the United Nations] makes it a lot slower than you would want it to be. But a slow consensus that is really shared is more important than a soap bubble that explodes when people leave the conference.”
A meeting of States Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change in Bali, Indonesia had been planned for December, said Mr. de Boer, and would involve economists, the scientific community, civil society and business leaders. Discussions were likely to touch on emerging issues, such as deforestation -- shown by scientists to have caused 20 per cent of the increase in greenhouse gases, and raised by the Group of 8+5.
Other topics meriting further discussion included the sustainability of biofuels -- such as the production of ethanol in Brazil -- which Mr. de Boer said needed careful study. “What happens if you are cutting down rainforests in order to plant sugar cane or palm oil? Aren’t you really doing more harm than good?”
Mr. de Boer also fielded questions on recent studies by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- created by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme in 1988 -- particularly on a draft study detailing the loss of 20 to 30 per cent of animal species due to global warming. Mr. de Boer said it would be up to world Governments to review the report and disseminate its findings, adding that the Intergovernmental Panel was expected to release a separate report in April on the impact of climate change on the environment. That report would be followed by another, containing measures for responding to those environmental changes.
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