Obama phones Ban to discuss current crises and global affairs

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with US Senator Barack Obama in February 2007

20 November 2008 – United States President-elect Barack Obama has telephoned Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to discuss how to address current crises and strengthen the partnership between the US and the United Nations.

The conversation, which took place yesterday afternoon, also focused on other regional and global issues and followed a congratulatory letter Mr. Ban sent Mr. Obama on his election.

Meanwhile UN environmental chiefs have welcomed Mr. Obama’s statement that his presidency “will mark a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change,” made in a video message to an international conference in California on Tuesday.

“This is very meaningful, and not just for the climate conventions,” UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner said in a statement, referring to the upcoming climate convention in Poznan, Poland, from 1 to 12 December. “It is also a signal that in spite of – or rather because of – the current financial crisis, a greener economic policy is finding new momentum.”

Mr. Obama's remarks were also welcomed by Yvo de Boer, Executive Director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is leading the climate talks.

“[Mr.] Obama indicated that he wants to show leadership both domestically and internationally,” he told reporters, according to a press release issued by UNEP. “I feel that's a very important signal of encouragement for all of the countries in these negotiations.

“The lesson of Kyoto is that we clearly need to find a way forward that the United States is willing to commit to,” Mr. de Boer added, referring to the Kyoto Protocol, rejected by President George W. Bush, under which industrialized countries are to reduce their combined emissions of six major greenhouse gases during the five-year period from 2008 to 2012 to below 1990 levels.

Nations will converge in Copenhagen, Denmark, later next year to wrap up negotiations on greenhouse gas emissions and conclude a successor pact to the Kyoto agreement, whose first commitment period ends in 2012.

UNFCCC Deputy Executive Secretary Richard Kinley told the California conference that a complex global problem such as climate change must be addressed through an international agreement, but state and provincial governments also had a role to play.

Early action on their part can show national governments that tackling climate change is possible without bankrupting an economy and they can contribute to national governments’ ability to commit to ambitious targets internationally, he said yesterday, urging the participants to advocate for a new climate change deal in Copenhagen.


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