Rise in gas emissions must be contained to avoid global disaster, says Ban

10 August 2009 – With 118 days left until the start of the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen, where nations are aiming to conclude a new pact to curb greenhouse gas emissions, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today warned that the rise in the release of gases must be reversed in less than 10 years to avert a global catastrophe.

Climate change is, “simply, the greatest collective challenge we face as a human family,” Mr. Ban said in his keynote speech in Seoul, Republic of Korea, to the World Federation of UN Associations.

It is also the greatest challenge the world faces, he said, urging governments to “seal the deal in the name of humankind” on a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period for reducing emissions ends in 2012, at the Danish capital in December.

The new treaty offers a “once-in-a-generation opportunity,” the Secretary-General stressed, calling for a “concrete multilateralism” to ensure success in Copenhagen.

During his speech in Seoul, he also called for global cooperation to tackle other key challenges: nuclear disarmament, development and human rights.

“Never has the imperative of acting together been so self-evident,” he noted.

Also today, the latest round of UN climate change talks kicked off in Bonn, Germany.

During the five-day gathering – the third of six meetings ahead of the event in the Danish capital in December – some 2,000 participants are expected to make further progress on the negotiating text.

“We are at an exciting point in the negotiations which can lead us to the turning point in the fight against climate change in Copenhagen,” said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

That body, with 192 States Parties, is the parent treaty of the Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period for reducing gas emissions ends in 2012.

In the run-up to the Copenhagen meeting, two more rounds of meetings will be held in Bangkok, Thailand, in October and Barcelona, Spain, in November.

On 22 September, the Secretary-General, who will visit the Arctic ice brim to raise awareness of global warming, will host the largest ever gathering of leaders on the issue of climate change at UN Headquarters in New York.

More than 100 heads of State and government are expected to attend the meeting, which seeks to build moment ahead of the Copenhagen talks.


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