12 December 2007 The world is counting on a breakthrough at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told delegates today at the summit, calling the fight against global warming “the moral challenge of our generation.”
In a speech at the opening of the Conference’s high-level segment, he said that “what the world expects from Bali – from all of you – is an agreement to launch negotiations towards a comprehensive climate change agreement.”
Mr. Ban underscored the importance of creating a road map to tackle climate change and a timeline to produce a new agreement by 2009 so that it can enter into force after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
“Let us turn the climate crisis into a climate compact,” he said, informing the delegates that they have been given a “clear charge” by the world to produce a breakthrough.
“Not only are the eyes of the world upon us – more important, succeeding generations depend on us. We cannot rob our children of their future.”
Climate change affects those least equipped to cope and those least responsible the hardest, the Secretary-General pointed out.
“We have an ethical obligation to right this injustice,” he noted. “We have a duty to protect the most vulnerable.”
The Secretary-General urged developed countries to continue taking the lead in slashing emissions, while developing nations need incentives to curb their own release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
“Together, we can spur a new era of green economics, an era of truly sustainable development based on clean technology and a low-emission technology,” he declared.
According to scientists, creative solutions can result in both lowered emissions and economic growth, Mr. Ban said, as the “costs of inaction – in ecological, human and financial terms – far exceed the costs of action now.”
Acknowledging that concluding a new climate change regime will not be easy, the Secretary-General pledged the world body’s support through the negotiating period and assistance in implementing agreements reached.
“Every UN agency, fund and programme is committed,” he told the gathering of more than 130 government ministers and six heads of State. “We are determined to be a part of the answer to climate change.”
Mr. Ban also paid tribute to the UN officials and civilians who lost their lives in the deadly blasts that rocked Algiers, Algeria, and called on the perpetrators of the “outrageous attacks” to be brought to justice. “These cowardly attacks cannot be justified under any circumstances,” he said.
Responding to reporters’ questions following his speech, Mr. Ban acknowledged that at the Conference, “realistically, it may be too ambitious if delegations expect to be able to agree on a target of greenhouse gas emission reduction.”
However, he expressed confidence that participants will be able to agree on a road map to launch negotiations.
“We really need to expedite our process of negotiation. Therefore, we need to have a very clearly time-bound target to conclude by the end of 2009,” he noted.
“The United Nations and I as its Secretary-General will spare no efforts to facilitate and to help Member States and to urge [them to action]. Whatever political influence I have, I will try to use.”