|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
PRESS CONFERENCE BY EXECUTIVE SECRETARY OF United nations
CLIMATE CHANGE CONVENTION
During the last two weeks, key developing nations along with major corporations in industrialized countries were offering encouraging signs of their commitment to reign in greenhouse gas emissions and move the global climate change agenda forward, Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), said during a Headquarters news conference this afternoon.
“The major developing countries are beginning to take a very proactive position on this particular issue and the business community is calling for clarity and a clear policy direction. All of that auger well for the big climate change conference in Bali in December,” Mr. de Boer said.
Leaders from around the world met in Bonn, Germany, over the last two weeks to discuss mainly technical issues in preparation for the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention, scheduled to be held in Bali. But many –- concerned about global strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions after the Kyoto Protocol’s emissions reduction target expired in 2012 -- took the process a step further, Mr. de Boer said. For example, the delegation from Brazil, a major player in the climate change debate and a leader in ethanol and biofuel production, called for not just discussing but actually also negotiating post 2012-strategies. South Africa’s representatives said both developed and developing countries must work toward new commitments.
A couple of weeks ago, China announced a very comprehensive, ambitious climate change strategy that addressed many economic sectors including energy-intensive industry; while, India’s Prime Minister recently convened a meeting on national emissions reduction strategies, requesting inputs on industry, transportation and agriculture. The business community, Mr. de Boer said, was currently leading the pack, with European, United States and Canadian corporations calling for targets to enable them to make sound long-term investment decisions.
Failure to enact wise long-term policy direction could put the question of climate change into overdrive, Mr. de Boer said. “The window of opportunity to put something in place that can seamlessly follow on beyond 2012 is closing. We really need to move quickly.” An estimated $20 trillion would be invested in the energy sector over the next 25 to 30 years to meet energy demands, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Carbon dioxide emissions needed to drop by 60 per cent over that period, but if investments were made without taking climate change into account then emissions would in fact increase by 60 per cent. Furthermore, in the next five to 10 years, the world would be replacing an estimated 40 per cent of its power-generating capacity with the installation of new power plants to remain in service for 30 to 50 years.
In three recent reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), scientists discussed the impact of climate change, such as increasing drought in Africa, crop failure due to water shortages, the spread of disease in areas previously unharmed, sea-level rise potentially affecting many major cities worldwide and the fact that climate change was the main driver for biodiversity loss. They also revealed that they were 90 per cent certain that human beings were responsible for climate change and that the technology existed to address the problem in a cost-effective way.
Many developing countries that were least prepared to protect themselves against such consequences were already experiencing the most severe impact of climate change, he said, stressing the importance of policies that both reduced greenhouse gas emissions and helped developing countries, particularly least developed countries and small island developing States, adapt to the changes.
Responding to a reporter’s question over the United States’ growing reluctance to negotiate emissions targets during the Bali conference, he said it was encouraging that the United States and others were debating the timing of the negotiating process rather than rejecting the process outright.
As to the Russian Federation’s role, he said it was a constructive participant in the climate change debate and had asked whether the international community should continue with its current policy of negotiating targets for each industrialized country or embrace a more flexible approach that allowed countries to make voluntary commitments. The Russian Federation had also adopted absolute emission targets, while countries with twice its per capita gross domestic product had not made comparable commitments.
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