|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by Director of Secretary-General’s Climate Change
Support Team to Provide Update on Negotiations
The Secretary-General was confident that Governments would reach agreement in Copenhagen on the fundamental issues that would form the substance of a legally binding international agreement, Janos Pasztor, Director of the Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team, said at Headquarters today.
Speaking at a press conference, during which he provided an update on the climate change negotiations, he said political momentum continued to grow, emphasizing that the ongoing, extraordinary engagement by world leaders suggested a deal would emerge in Copenhagen and would be the basis of a treaty. The negotiations had concluded in Barcelona, Spain, on Friday, four weeks before the Copenhagen Climate Conference slated for 7 to 18 December.
Mr. Pasztor said that, since the Secretary-General’s Summit on Climate Change in September, world leaders had held numerous bilateral discussions on the need to move global negotiations forward. The Secretary-General maintained that the negotiations must result in an agreement under which Governments would take action to effectively and fairly address what the science was saying: that the earth’s average temperature increase must be limited to below 2° Celsius.
The continued direct involvement of Heads of State and Government was crucial in that effort, Mr Pasztor stressed. “Leaders share the view that there is no alternative but to work together and that Copenhagen must be a turning point in global efforts to address this grave challenge,” he said. While admittedly complex, such a globally inclusive process would help ensure that a treaty, when ready, would be comprehensive and equitable.
He said countries were clearly anxious both to put a new legal regime in place and to ensure that any agreement could be implemented quickly and effectively to reduce global emissions and protect people and the planet. To that end, there had been an upsurge in public awareness and public activity on climate change, including among civil and business leaders, as well as among faith groups. The Secretary-General had met representatives of various faiths at a Windsor Castle meeting last week and would be meeting members of the United States Senate in Washington, D.C., tomorrow. His message would include how Governments were approaching the negotiations and what they expected from the United States.
Meanwhile, the Government of Denmark was continuing to conduct consultations on the agreement that may emerge from the Conference, he said. On Friday, the Secretary-General had also met with members of his Advisory Group on Energy and Climate, which had presented draft recommendations on energy access and energy efficiency, which would be finalized later in the month.
Responding to questions about the reasons for the Secretary-General’s confidence, Mr. Pasztor said that, based on his many discussions with world leaders, the Secretary-General believed “everybody wants to have a deal” in Copenhagen. “While we’re not quite there yet, the willingness is there to make it happen, so it’s not a question of whether or not we’re going to have a deal, it’s a question of how we’re going to make sure that we get a good deal in Copenhagen.”
Asked what the biggest obstacles were, he said there had been progress in negotiations, but not on the core fundamental issues, which included ambitious mitigation targets in the developed countries, mitigation activities in developing countries, and financing. Those issues were important for a country’s overall development, and the engagement of Heads of State and Government was therefore required to address them.
Pressed further on why the Secretary-General was so confident given the lack of resolution on such key issues, he stressed that they could be resolved.
In response to other questions, he said some of the Secretary-General’s meetings in Washington, D.C., would be with White House staff as well as Senators. The Secretary-General was no longer considering attending the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting.
Asked what the recent African walkout during the Barcelona negotiations portended, he noted that the delegates had walked out of one set of meetings, but had then walked back into others. The political message they had conveyed by walking out was important and had been made clear, but their return to the negotiating table had meant the work could continue.
In response to questions about the evolution in the messaging and language around the need for a “legally binding” deal –- and what “sealing the deal” might mean in the absence of such an agreement -- the Director said the message had been fairly consistent that a legally binding agreement remained the long-term goal. However, that was a complex issue, and it had become clear over recent months that it was unlikely that the work required for a legally binding agreement would be completed by Copenhagen.
Nevertheless, that was not the main issue, the Director said. The world community should focus on what needed to be done in terms of mitigation, adaptation and financing, he stressed. In that respect, plenty could still be done and agreed upon in Copenhagen. Indeed, that would be a “milestone”.
Commenting in response to a question about the signals coming out of the weekend meeting of the Group of 20 (G-20) finance ministers, he said the statement that they were willing to work for an ambitious deal in Copenhagen was positive. Clearly, they were not ready to sign off on the details, and more homework was required. Fortunately, there was still time for that, though not much.
* *** *For information media • not an official record