24 September 2007
Spokesperson's Noon Briefing

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

DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL


And the spokesperson for the General Assembly president

 


The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Janos Tisovszky, Spokesperson for the General Assembly President.


Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General


Good afternoon all, our guest at the noon briefing today will be Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, to speak to you as soon as possible on today’s events and the Friday breakthrough in Montreal.  A few notes before we hear from him and Janos Tisovszky, the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.


**Statement on Myanmar


First, we have a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Myanmar.  The Secretary-General is closely following events in Myanmar.  He commends the peaceful approach the demonstrators are using to press their interests, and he calls upon the Myanmar authorities to continue to exercise restraint.  The Secretary-General hopes that the Government will seize this opportunity to engage without delay in dialogue with all the relevant parties to the national reconciliation process on the issues of concern to the people of Myanmar.  The Secretary-General, through his good offices mandate, is committed to continue to intensify his assistance in this process with a view to promoting national reconciliation, the restoration of democracy and full respect for human rights in Myanmar.


**Climate Change Meeting


Here at Headquarters, representatives from nearly 160 countries, including more than 70 Heads of State, are taking part in a high-level, informal discussion on climate change, as you already know.  The Secretary-General convened this meeting to give participants an opportunity to exchange views on the challenges of climate change and how to respond to it.


Addressing the opening plenary this morning, the Secretary-General stressed that science has proven that climate change is real, and it is affecting mostly those who are the least able to cope.


He called for national action, with industrialized countries taking the lead in reducing their emissions and support for adaptation being provided for poor countries.


But national action alone is not enough, he said.  Climate change must be confronted within a global framework, namely the UN’s climate change process.  He stressed the need for a breakthrough at the upcoming negotiations in Bali, Indonesia, on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.


When today’s plenaries wrap up, the Secretary-General will issue a Chair Summary of the event. 


We will have that in my office as soon as it becomes available.


**Carbon Offsets for Today’s Meeting


The UN will substantially offset the carbon emissions caused by today's High-Level Event on Climate Change, which is estimated at about 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide.  These carbon emissions are primarily from the energy use for the meeting, the travel of UN staff involved in the organization of the meeting, special invitees and speakers, and Heads of State and Government and ministers who have come to New York only for the High-Level Event.


The carbon emissions from the Event will be offset by a small-scale hydroelectric project located in Intibuca, Honduras, near the city of La Esperanza.  In addition to providing power stability to the electric grid in the area, this high quality renewable energy project provides significant local social and environmental benefits, such as rural electrification and reduced dependency on fuelwood, increased employment of local people, and improvement of the watershed through reforestation.


The effort to offset the carbon footprint of today’s Event, which will cost $15,800, is supported by the UN Foundation. 


You can get more information on the carbon offset programme, on our www.un.org/climatechange/2007highlevel website.


**Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee


The Secretary-General this morning addressed the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee, which is chaired by Norway and serves as the main coordination mechanism for development assistance to the Palestinian people.


Among other things, the meeting will help prepare for an international pledging conference in December.


In his remarks, the Secretary-General said living conditions were worsening for a growing number of Palestinians.  Institutions -- weakened by several years of crisis, by fiscal uncertainty, and by recent divisions –- must be rebuilt and reformed if they are to lay credible foundations for a future State.  He added that a political solution was required to deliver long-term security to Israel.


The Secretary-General also said he was particularly concerned for the welfare of the ordinary people of Gaza, who find themselves and their goods increasingly cut off from the outside world.  We have his full remarks upstairs.


At 1:30 this afternoon, in this room, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni will hold a press conference on this topic.


**Upcoming Press Conferences


Just to touch upon press conferences today -– we have quite a few of them.  As you know, our guest at the noon briefing is Mr. Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme.


At 2:30 p.m., you have a press conference here in 226 with Mr. Fredrik Reinfeldt, Prime Minister of Sweden; Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme; Brad Irwin, President of Cadbury Adams; Rana Kapoor, CEO of YesBank, India; James Cameron, Chairman of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP); and Mark Goldfus, Head of Public Policy at Merrill Lynch.  They’ll brief you on the release of a new survey of the Carbon Disclosure Project.


At 3:30 p.m., you have H.E. Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, and he will brief you also on climate change


There will be a joint press conference by the Secretary-General at 6:20 p.m. this afternoon in Conference Room 4.  It will be with H.E. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of Indonesia and Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and they will be briefing you on today’s events.


We’ll first have the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly before we have our guest.  Janos…


**Questions and Answers


Question:  Are you going to take any questions?


Spokesperson:  No, we will not have time for questions today.


Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President


Good afternoon, thank you very much for coming.


**High-Level Meeting on Climate Change


General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim also addressed the high-level meeting on climate change this morning and what he had to say very nicely dovetails into what Michèle has highlighted for you as regards to the Secretary-General’s speech.  President Kerim began his statement by reminding participants that 20 years ago, world leaders had already acknowledged that climate change was real.  Since then, science had made it clear what the consequences of inaction would be.


The President of the Assembly called for political will and the exercise of visionary leadership.  At the same time he also noted, “There is an ethical dimension to climate change.  Beyond the impact on ecosystems, economics and communities everywhere, we have a moral obligation to our fellow human beings.”  He stressed that to tackle the challenge of climate change, the United Nations and the General Assembly should play a central role.  He said, “because climate change and our response will affect every aspect of human activity and our environment.  The United Nations is the appropriate global forum to take action to address it.”


As regards next steps, he called for going beyond taking stock to have a clear vision forward.  For this, he would be proposing the crafting of a comprehensive road map for the UN system and its Member States -- also drawing on the expertise of civil society, business and academia.  The President of the Assembly is intending to convene a thematic debate in early 2008 to forge a broader consensus on the climate change issue and elaborate the steps for the UN systems to take.


**General Assembly


And a few words on the General Assembly work programme.  Let me briefly go back to Friday and Friday’s plenary of the Assembly, and flag that at that meeting the Assembly concluded its plenary meeting and adopted its work programme, its agenda, for the 62nd session and its allocation of the items for the agenda. In the end, there were 140 Member States who took the floor on the issue of the General Committee’s recommendation not to include Taiwan’s membership application among the agenda items of the 62nd session.  The debate ended with the plenary accepting, without objection, the Committee’s recommendation of not including this item on the agenda. 


There’s a press release out on all of this, GA/10617, which gives you the details on the speakers, also on the various details of the agenda, the work programme and when the main Committees are meeting.


And two other quick things that go back to Friday.  Somebody asked me whether there was ever a precedent as to the plenary overturning a recommendation by the General Committee.  In fact, last year the General Committee recommended not to include the proposed item on, and I quote, “Protracted conflicts in the GUAM area” -- that’s Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova –- “and their implications for international peace and security and development”.  But then, the plenary actually decided to put this on the agenda of the Assembly and it actually remains  there for the 62nd session as well.  Matthew is not here, but he was asking about complaints received for the Host Country Committee.  No complaints were received. 


And now just on the General Debate:  We have an updated list, which is version number three, that is available at the Spokesman’s office.  The General Debate begins tomorrow at 9 a.m.  Our count is still 193 speakers, 191 of the 192 Member States -– Djibouti’s not speaking -– and observers Palestine, and the Holy See.  And as regards the number of Heads of State and Heads of Government, our unofficial count is at 99. 


Finally, to go back to the topic of the day, climate change, please note that the idea is not to drop that topic at the end of today, because the General Debate has as its main theme, “Responding to Climate Change”, so discussion on the topic is supposed to continue in the next couple of days.  And I think that’s a nice way of rounding things up and going full circle and having Mr. Steiner come as our guest and continue on that topic.  Thank you.


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For information media • not an official record