UN Climate Change Conference represents crossroads, Secretary-General says

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

11 December 2007 – The negotiations at the historic United Nations Climate Change Conference under way in Bali, Indonesia, represent a turning point in the fight against global warming, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.

“Today, we are at a crossroads, one path leading towards a comprehensive new climate agreement, and the other towards oblivion. The choice is clear,” he said, underscoring the importance of the Bali meeting.

Immediate measures are imperative, not only to agree on a post-Kyoto Protocol pact, but because of the severity of the situation, Mr. Ban noted.

“Any delay could push us past the tipping point beyond which the ecological, financial and human costs increase dramatically.”

The Secretary-General was addressing an event in Bali to promote the latest Human Development Report by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), which argues that without urgent action, climate change could devastate the world’s poorest people and reverse any gains made in poverty reduction, nutrition, health and education.

“As the Report explains, we face not just an environmental problem, but a threat to humanity’s highest values,” he stated.

Also in Bali, the final details on an innovative fund to help developing countries adapt to climate change were agreed upon today by countries attending the Conference, ahead of its high-level portion – to be attended by over 130 ministers and six heads of state – kicking off tomorrow.

The fund is expected to provide $80 million to $300 million annually for adaptation between 2008 and 2012, which is also the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

The fund does not rely on voluntary contributions, but rather on a 2 per cent levy on each Certified Emission Reduction credit issued for Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects in developing countries.

Other issues in Bali that are still unresolved include reducing emissions from deforestation, the implementation of practical adaptation actions and the transfer of clean technologies to developing countries.

Countries are also still in discussions over the issue of including emissions reduction targets in a final agreement.

Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said the proposed 25 per cent to 40 per cent range of reductions proposed by 2020 is a range and not a target.

“This range does not represent concrete emission reduction targets for industrialized countries and this conference will not produce an agreement on specific targets per country,” he said.

Instead, what the Bali meeting aims to achieve, Mr. de Boer explained, is to set the wheels in motion for launching a process.

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