17 December 2009 With only 24 hours to go before the scheduled end of the historic United Nations climate change talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced optimism that a new agreement will be reached.
Mr. Ban acknowledged that negotiations have been proceeding slowly in “one of the most complex and complicated and most difficult processes that you can imagine,” but emphasized to journalists that he believes “we can seal the deal, still,” in the Danish capital.
All the major players have made important commitments for mitigation and all of the key financial elements needed for a new agreement are on the table, he noted.
With over 130 heads of State and government gathered in Copenhagen, “if they can’t seal the deal, who can?” the Secretary-General asked, exhorting the leaders to use their common sense, courage and ability to compromise to ensure a new accord is reached.
“We do not have any more time to waste,” he underlined.
In response to a reporter’s question, Mr. Ban welcomed today’s announcement by United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the nation would help to raise $100 billion annually by 2020 to assist developing nations combat climate change.
“I am sure it will have a very important political dynamic in our current negotiations,” he said, noting that he has issued repeated calls for leaders to make firm mid- and longer-term pledges beyond the commitment made to provide $10 billion a year until 2012.
Negotiations resumed today in Copenhagen after they had stalled over divisions between States, and the Secretary-General met with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on the sidelines of the talks as part of his efforts to overcome the divisions.
He also took part in talks with leaders from Australia, Bangladesh, Denmark, Indonesia, the Maldives, Mexico, Norway, Viet Nam and the United Kingdom, and is scheduled to later meet with the leaders of Gabon and Israel, as well as the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority.
Likening the negotiating process in Copenhagen to climbing a large hill, Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), told journalists at a press conference at the summit today that, after the announced resumption of work, “the cable car is moving again.”
Contact groups have been set up to address outstanding political issues, and the UNFCCC official said that these bodies must take stock of progress achieved in their meetings by this evening.
Pointing to this as an “encouraging” sign, he said that “we now have clarity on the process, we have clarity on the docs that will be the basis for work, [and] we have clarity that the process will be transparent.”
Yesterday, the Secretary-General said that emissions reductions and financing remain the key issues in the talks on a new agreement.
The Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found that to stave off the worst effects of climate change, industrialized countries must slash greenhouse gas emissions by 25 to 40 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020, and that global emissions must be halved by 2050.
“I hope that the developed countries should come out with more ambitious mid-term target by 2020 against the 1990 level,” Mr. Ban told reporters in Copenhagen.
He also called for “sufficient financial and technological support for the developing countries, particularly the most vulnerable States.”
In a related development, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has underscored that helping to expand climate science is just one of the contributions it is making in the fight against climate change.
“Thanks to its interdisciplinary capacities, UNESCO can render a unique contribution to mitigation and adaptation to climate change through distinct action in education, the sciences, culture, communication and information,” Director-General Irina Bokova announced yesterday in Copenhagen.
In particular, she said, UNESCO can assist in expanding the knowledge base of climate science through its Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), in close collaboration with the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO), to better understand and forecast climate phenomena.
UNESCO also seeks to further education on climate change though teacher training, educational strategies and curricula revision, among other actions, as part of the UN Decade on Education for Sustainable Development.
Further, the agency will promote cultural and biological diversity, as well as deal with the various ethical and social dimensions of climate change, including migration issues.
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