Ban Ki-moon calls for new thinking on solutions to climate change problems

5 June 2007 – The world needs “new thinking and a new inclusiveness” to tackle the perils of climate change, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, marking World Environment Day with a call for urgent global action that takes into account the needs of the world’s least affluent countries.

“Solutions to global warming proposed by developed nations cannot come at the expense of less fortunate neighbours on the planet,” Mr. Ban wrote in an opinion column for The International Herald Tribune.

Noting that global warming “affects us all, yet it affects us all differently,” he said wealthy nations already have the resources and know-how to adapt to global warming.

“An African farmer, losing crops or herds to drought and dust storms, or a Tuvalu islander worried his village might soon be under water, is infinitely more vulnerable.”

Mr. Ban, who is travelling to Heiligendamm, Germany, for a summit meeting this week with leaders from the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations, noted that the United States and European countries were proposing contrasting strategies for dealing with climate change.

“We shall see how all this unfolds… But let us remember. A G8 agreement that is not global in scope cannot hope to offer solutions to a global problem. It is time for new thinking and a new inclusiveness.”

He welcomed US President George W. Bush’s recent declaration that he would launch a US climate initiative, but urged that it take place within the UN’s global framework for discussion.

Mr. Ban stressed that “the science is clear” on climate change, with every day bringing new evidence of both its growing impact and its principal cause – humans – and the need for urgent action.

“Today’s solution du jour – the rage for carbon trading – is but one weapon in our arsenal,” he wrote. “New technologies, energy conservation, forestry projects and renewable fuels, as well as private markets, must all be part of a long-term strategy. So must adaptation. After all, mitigation can only go so far.”

He added that he would soon announce the details of a special high-level meeting on climate change, to be held in New York in September before the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly.

Recently, he appointed three special envoys, tasked with speaking out for the interests and concerns of nations most vulnerable to climate change, home to the vast majority of the world’s people.

In a separate message issued to mark World Environment Day, the Secretary-General said there are many policy and technological options available to avert the impending crisis, but increased political will is needed to use them.

Developed countries in particular can do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and encourage energy efficiency, he said. They can also support clean development in fast-growing economies such as Brazil, China and India, as well as adaptation measures in those countries that face the greatest hardships from climate change.

Everyone must recognize the need to slow the momentum of the dramatic environmental changes that are taking place around the globe, he added.

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