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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Port of Spain (Trinidad & Tobago)

27 November 2009

Keynote Address to Commonwealth Heads of Government on Climate Change

Thank you,
Mr. Prime Minister,
Distinguished Heads of State and Government of the Commonwealth,
Monsieur Le President Sarkozy de la France,
Prime Minister Rasmussen of Denmark,

It's a great honour for me to have this opportunity to brief you on the current status of negotiations on climate change leading to Copenhagen.

Prime Minister Manning - your country's motto is “Together we aspire, together we achieve.”

When it comes to combating climate change there could be no truer statement.

Each day brings fresh evidence of growing engagement and commitment.

An agreement is within reach.

Some 80 world leaders have now pledged to attend the Summit. More are signing up daily.

The momentum is strong – and it continues to grow.

Our common goal is to achieve a firm foundation for a legally binding climate treaty as early as possible in 2010.

I am confident that we are on track to do this.

Every country, large or small, has an important role.

Each week brings new commitments and pledges -- from industrialized countries, emerging economies, and developing countries alike.

Brazil, Indonesia and the Republic of Korea recently announced voluntary plans to significantly reduce emissions.

The Russian Federation has increased its mid-term target.

Japan, Norway and the European Union have all made ambitious pledges.

India has strong plans for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

South Africa, Mexico and many others are showing similar commitment and initiative.

Most recently the Presidents of the United States and China have pledged to work together to reach an agreement in Copenhagen.

President Obama has announced he will attend Copenhagen in person and that he intends to come with an offer to cut US greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent on 2005 figures by 2020.

Yesterday China revealed that Prime Minister Wen Jiabao will attend the talks.

The Chinese Government has also announced very encouraging strong commitments to slow the speed of its emissions growth.

It intends to cut the "carbon intensity" of its economy by between 40 and 45 per cent, increase the use of non-fossil fuels by 15 per cent, increase forest cover by 40 million hectares, and increase forests stock by 1.5 billion cubic metres.

All of this is to be achieved by 2020 against a 2005 baseline.


The world is on the move.

My message to you today is simple: stay focused stay committed come to Copenhagen - and seal a deal.

A deal that is ambitious, a deal that is equitable, a deal that satisfies the demands of science.

As you know, I am working closely with Prime Minister Rasmussen of Denmark.

I urge you to accept his invitation to come to Copenhagen for the final days of this critical conference.

Distinguished Heads of State and Government of the Commonwealth,

We cannot afford to fail. The costs are simply too great.

Increased human suffering, higher economic losses, opportunities squandered in terms of productivity, global competitiveness and political stability.

I am fully aware of the challenges and plights of small island developing countries and least developed countries. Countries in the Caribbean are well-acquainted with the destruction climate change will bring.

Increasingly severe storms and rising sea levels have already taken a heavy toll on many island nations.

A major disaster can wipe out decades of development gains overnight, lives and livelihoods destroyed, entire economies devastated.

I am looking forward to my meetings with the leaders from small island developing countries and least developed countries tomorrow afternoon.

The longer we wait, the worse it will be.

That is why we must push -- on two levels.

We need an agreement that is as ambitious as possible to cut greenhouse gas emissions and protect the most vulnerable.

And we need every country on board.

Harmonizing these two will not be easy. But it is essential.

It will demand your leadership.


We look for strong commitments in five areas.

First, we need ambitious mid-term mitigation targets from industrialized countries.

In this, as I've said, we can see fresh and impressive new momentum.

Second - ambitious mitigation actions by developing countries that limit the growth of their emissions to below “business as usual.”

Here, too, the signs are encouraging.

Third - an ambitious adaptation framework for all countries.

Fourth - financing and technology to support developing countries with all the above.

Fifth, we need to create a transparent and equitable governance structure to manage and deploy these resources that gives all countries a voice.

Again, financing is key.

In the short-term, we look to the developed world to provide at least $10 billion dollars in fast-track funding annually over the next three years until 2012.

With this money, we can jump-start low-emission growth in developing countries, limit deforestation and finance immediate adaptation measures.

Over the medium term, we need very substantial funding, scaled up to the needs.

An agreement in Copenhagen that clearly addresses these elements will be a success.

The United Nations will continue to support you, both in reaching an accord and in implementing it.

But only you can deliver the agreement.

Let me speak plainly.

We must not lose this momentum.

We must seal a deal in Copenhagen.

We will not get a better agreement any time soon. If we hold out for everything up front, we risk ending up with no agreement at all.

We must be ambitious on emission targets, we must be ambitious on funding.

In that regard, we must support Prime Minister Rasmussen in his efforts as President of COP 15 to seal the deal in Copenhagen.

In these final days I urge you to make the extra push. Now is your time.

Seize this moment. Make Copenhagen the success the world needs.

It is within reach.

“Together we aspire, together we achieve.” And I count on your leadership.

Thank you very much.