I would like to begin by paying tribute to our dear colleague, Joke Waller-Hunter, whose leadership and tenacity as head of this Convention should inspire us all.
We know that this Conference confronts formidable tasks. But there are also many reasons for hope.
The long-awaited entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol, earlier this year, marked an important political breakthrough. In September, the 2005 World Summit seized that momentum and directed prominent attention to climate change. World leaders underlined the UN Framework Convention as the “framework for addressing future action on climate change at the global level.” And they firmly “committed to moving forward the global discussion on long-term cooperative action to address climate change,” in accordance with the Convention’s principles.
Crucially, the Summit recognized tackling climate change, promoting clean energy, and meeting energy needs as interconnected challenges that must be approached in the wider context of sustainable development.
This represents an important—and potentially powerful—recognition that climate change is not only an environmental issue but, above all, a question of sustainable development, with its economic, social, and environmental dimensions. It allows governments and the business community a way to analyze the real long-term costs of inaction, which would far surpass the costs of action taken now and in the near future to mitigate climate change.
This recognition must be translated into concrete treatment of climate change as an issue that cuts across the development agenda, with climate policy fully integrated into all countries’ national development strategies and mainstreamed into international development cooperation.
We have seen, in this regard, several new initiatives and partnerships that could contribute to mitigating climate change and to enhancing energy efficiency and clean energy. These must support the central multilateral framework, the UNFCCC. And all these efforts must feed into the design of a more inclusive international framework for continued reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) beyond 2012.
We must spare no effort to make the Kyoto Protocol work. The carbon market must be strengthened in order effectively to foster private sector investment in clean technologies and clean energies. An effective Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) could provide the resource flows required in developing countries to make changes in energy and transport infrastructure and in technology choices. And, of course, in industrialized countries, concrete measures are needed to reduce GHG emissions and, in industrial and developing countries alike, to promote clean and efficient energy use.
At the same time, the world should make much better use of the broader UN framework, for global cooperation towards sustainable development. The UN system can be an indispensable vehicle to help stimulate and implement new policies and new technologies to reduce both the impact of economic growth on climate and the negative impact of climate change on development.
Pursuing these objectives will require coherent action on and across multiple fronts: constructing GHG markets; enhancing scientific research and development; transferring technology; enhancing clean energy technologies; “greening” foreign and domestic investment; promoting sustainable forest management; and strengthening the adaptive capacity of countries, especially the most vulnerable, to short-term climatic shocks and long-term climate impacts.
The United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development will address energy, climate change, atmosphere/air pollution, and industrial development in its next two-year implementation cycle. The cycle presents an excellent opportunity to pursue an integrated approach to these interconnected issues.
Innovation in both policy measures and technology options will be critical in ensuring the broadest possible participation in an effective global response to climate change.
Tackling climate change clearly is a struggle for the long term. But our opportunity and our obligation to act is now.