Effective partnerships key to tackling climate change, says Assembly President

Srgjan Kerim, President of the 62nd session of the General Assembly

11 February 2008 – Effective partnerships and a clear global strategy for the United Nations are essential to address climate change comprehensively, General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim said today in New York at the start of a two-day meeting on the issue.

”The UN cannot address climate change alone. No one can,” Mr. Kerim said at the opening of the Assembly debate, stressing the importance of collaboration in confronting global warming.

“Inevitably, we need as many actors as possible to get involved and unite in order to address its effects,” he added.

The Assembly President also appealed for a global strategy for the world body to respond to the obstacles posed by climate change.

“Many steps have already been taken by the Untied Nations and its Member States,” he noted. “We must now concentrate on streamlining the UN system’s many programmes and focusing resources where they will have the greatest effect.”

Mr. Kerim called for attention to the economic aspirations of developing countries. “The challenge is to find policies, instruments and technologies that can create low-carbon economies which promote sustainable economic growth and provide incentives for the individuals to change behaviour.”

Also speaking at the start of the debate was Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who called on developed nations to lead the effort to combat global warming in order to spur action by poorer ones.

“The more ambitious the commitments by developed countries, the more actions we can expect from developing countries,” he stated. “The more developing countries engage, the more ambitiously the developed countries will commit.”

The Secretary-General urged participants to build on the momentum generated by the breakthrough at last December’s landmark UN Climate Change Conference held in Bali, Indonesia, where ended with 187 countries agreeing to launch a two-year process of formal negotiations on a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

He pointed out that there is a “silver lining” in the form of the opportunity for cooperation in a “global, collective, inclusive and low-carbon approach to growth and development.”

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg detailed the metropolis’ plans to reduce its carbon footprint by nearly one third by 2030.

“Reducing your carbon production increases the social and economic well-being of your people,” he told the debate, citing such examples as New York’s taxis converting to hybrid cars, congestion pricing to reduce pollution and the planting of 1 million trees over the next decade to capture carbon dioxide.

If the United States and developing countries were to make similar commitments, the prospects of reaching agreement on a post-Kyoto regime would improve drastically, Mr. Bloomberg said.

In parallel with the Assembly debate, two panels are being convened, on “Rising to the Challenge: Partnerships on Climate Change” and “Responding to a Multifaceted Challenge: The UN at Work.” Participants include representatives from the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the UN family and media.

Plenary meetings, at which delegates from more than 100 countries and organizations are expected to speak, will kick off tomorrow.

Climate change was also discussed during a meeting today between Mr. Kerim and Slovenian President Danilo Türk.

The Assembly President lauded Slovenia’s active role in dealing with climate change, both as a UN Member State and as the current President of the European Union (EU).

Both men agreed that it is crucial that the topic be addressed at the regional and sub-regional levels and that measures such as awareness-raising are necessary in South-Eastern Europe.

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