Ban voices cautious optimism ahead of Copenhagen climate conference

28 October 2009 – Although much work remains to be done ahead of December’s climate change conference in Copenhagen, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said he is optimistic that world leaders will reach an ambitious agreement in the Danish capital.

Provided that four key benchmarks are decided upon, the gathering will be a success, Mr. Ban told reporters today during his monthly press conference.

Those four criteria, he said, are: emissions reductions targets by developed countries and enhanced mitigation actions by developing nations; adaptation measures; the provision of financing and technology for poorer nations; and the creation of an equitable global governance structure.

“We are not lowering expectations” ahead of the Copenhagen meeting, the Secretary-General stressed, noting that he has been working closely with Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, who is holding discussions with governments on the substance and form of an agreement that could emerge from the summit.

“There is a long way to go still,” he said, with only five weeks to go before that meeting.

Post-Copenhagen, Mr. Ban emphasized to reporters that countries must endeavour to ensure that any agreements reached during the technical negotiations in Denmark can be built upon to become legally binding.

Negotiators are set to meet next week in Barcelona, Spain, for the last round of negotiations before the two-week Copenhagen gathering kicks off on 7 December.

In an opinion article published earlier this week in the New York Times, Mr. Ban wrote that despite the gridlock at the last round of climate negotiations held in Bangkok, Thailand, in early October, “the elements of a deal are on the table.”

All that is needed to put them in place is political will, he said. “We need to step back from narrow national interest and engage in frank and constructive discussion in a spirit of global common cause.”

The leadership of the United States in this endeavour, the Secretary-General said, is vital, noting that he is encouraged by last week’s bipartisan initiative in the US Senate.

“We cannot afford another period where the United States stands on the sidelines,” he emphasized, adding that an “indecisive or insufficiently engaged” US will result in unnecessary and unaffordable delays in tackling global warming.


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