As the curtain was raised on the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged leaders to create a global framework to promote green economics and development.
Writing an Op-Ed in The Washington Post today, the Secretary-General said the Bali Conference is an opportunity for leaders to establish a road map for the future and agree on a timeline to conclude a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol – set to expire in 2012 – by next year so that it can enter into force in 2013.
“Handled correctly, our fight against global warming could set the stage for an eco-friendly transformation of the global economy – one that spurs growth and development rather than crimps it, as many nations fear.”
Like the Industrial Revolution, the technology revolution and the modern era of globalization, the Secretary-General observed that the world is on the cusp of a new age of green economics.
Scientists report that human activities are driving climate change, but “largely lost in the debate is the good news,” he noted, citing examples including Brazil, which derives some 44 per cent of its energy from renewable fuels – compared to the 13 per cent global average.
Although China is frequently touted as the successor to the United States in being the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, the Secretary-General pointed out that the country is making strides to combat key environmental issues by investing $10 billion in renewable energy this year. Premier Wen Jiabao recently pledged to slash energy consumption by 20 per cent over five years.
Mr. Ban said that rather than suffer from a transition to a green economy, growth may in fact gain momentum through the creation of new jobs as investment in zero-greenhouse gas energy surges.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has estimated that global investment in zero-greenhouse energy will reach $1.9 trillion by 2020 – a figure the Secretary-General called “seed money for a wholesale reconfiguration of global industry.”
The private sector requires ground rules and is calling for policies on climate change, including regulation, emissions caps and efficiency guidelines, he said.
“The scientists have done their job,” declared Mr. Ban, who is attending the Conference’s high-level segment next week. “Now it’s up to the politicians. Bali is a test of their leadership.”
Some 10,000 participants from 187 countries are expected to attend the two-week Conference.
Over the weekend, the Secretary-General spoke with the leaders of India and China on the issue, while last week, he conversed with the presidents of the Russian Federation, United States and Brazil, according to a UN spokesperson.