UN climate change chief urges nations to step up search for common ground

Opening of UN Climate Change Conference in Tianjin, China

4 October 2010 – With less than two months remaining before the next United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancún, a senior world body official called on nations to accelerate efforts to find common ground to reach a concrete outcome at the Mexico meeting.

“Governments have restored their own trust in the process, but they must ensure that the rest of the world believes in a future of ever-increasing government commitment to combat climate change,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Some 3,000 participants from more than 170 countries are in Tianjin, China, for a negotiating session which began today ahead of the next conference of parties in Cancún kicking off on 29 November.

“Governments need to agree on what is doable in Cancún and how it will be achievable in a politically-balanced manner,” Ms. Figueres stressed.

She noted there is a growing convergence in the negotiations that the event in the Mexican city could lead to a package of decisions defining action to address climate change.

This could include a new global framework to help countries adapt to climatic changes, launching a new mechanism to speed up the transfer of technology to developing nations, and setting up a new fund to oversee money raised for specific needs of poorer countries related to climate change.

“The agreements that can be reached in Cancún may not be exhaustive in their details, but as a balanced package, they must be comprehensive in their scope and they can deliver strong results in the short-term as well as set the stage for long-term commitments to address climate change in an effective and fair manner,” the UNFCCC chief said.

She acknowledged that there are areas where nations disagree, mainly over how and when to agree on a fair share of responsibilities on present and future action, but underlined that they are not insurmountable.

“Governments seem ready to discuss difficult issues,” Ms. Figueres said. “Now they must bridge differences in order to reach a tangible outcome in Cancún.”

For example, she said, they can formalize the many pledges they have made to cut and limit emissions.

The recent floods in Pakistan, fires in Russia and mudslides in China have spotlighted the dangers of extreme climate events, the official pointed out.

“The bottom line is that it is in no one’s interest to delay action,” she said. “Quite on the contrary, it is in everyone’s ultimate interest to accelerate action in order to minimize negative impacts on all.”


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