|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-second General Assembly
High-Level Event on Climate Change
Thematic Plenaries (AM & PM)
ACTIONS ON CLIMATE CHANGE WILL DEFINE GLOBAL LEGACY LEFT FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS,
SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL, AS HIGH-LEVEL EVENT CONVENES
Officials from 150 Countries, 71 Heads of State and Government Meet;
Aim to Build Momentum for December Climate Change Negotiations in Bali
Convinced that the world’s response to global warming will define the legacy left for future generations, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrapped up a landmark summit today, praising world leaders’ commitment to negotiating a bold new agreement to tackle climate change on all fronts, including adaptation, mitigation, clean technologies and resource mobilization.
“This event has taken us into a new era: today, I heard a clear call from world leaders for a breakthrough on climate change in Bali. And I now believe we have a major political commitment to achieving that,” Secretary-General Ban said as he closed the world body’s largest-ever gathering on the issue, which drew top officials from some 150 countries, including some 70 Heads of State and Government. Four plenary sessions on the themes of adaptation, mitigation, technology and financing were held simultaneously at the event.
Mr. Ban organized the one-day high-level event -- “The Future in Our Hands: Addressing the Leadership Challenge of Climate Change” -- ahead of the sixty-second General Assembly to build political momentum before a United Nations-sponsored Climate Change Conference set for December in Bali, Indonesia. That meeting aims to launch negotiations on an agreement to reduce greenhouse gases after 2012 under the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol.
“This event was not meant as an occasion for negotiations. It was meant to express the political will of world leaders at the highest level to tackle the challenge of climate change through concerted action,” the Secretary-General said, adding that the leaders had stated once again that the only forum where the issue could be decided upon is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
“We have come a long way in building understanding and a new consensus this year,” he said, stressing that, while more remained to be done, the event had sent a powerful political signal to the world, and to the Bali Conference, that there was the will and the determination, at the highest level, to break with the past and act decisively. “Action is possible now and it makes economic sense. The cost of inaction will far outweigh the cost of early action,” he said.
Also in closing remarks, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, which is hosting the upcoming meeting, said that Bali’s success hinged on two issues: deciding what action to take between now until the 2012 sunset date of the Kyoto Protocol; and examining what was envisioned after 2012. Clearly, innovative implementation of the Protocol was necessary. “But we all know full well that no matter what we do now, climate change will continue on its remorseless course,” he said, stressing that that was why the key words at the heart of the matter were “adaptation” and “mitigation”. That was why Bali must pave the way to the post-Kyoto era.
He called on those planning to attend Bali to adopt a road map to the post-2012 regime that would make it possible to implement realistic and tangible climate solutions. The success of the future climate regime depended on the developing world working in partnership with the developed world. A global strategy would not work if it did not include pro-poor, pro-development measures. The spirit of partnership must guide the negotiation process. Such sprit must also include the involvement of the business sector, civil society and individuals.
Finally, he said that the message coming out of today’s meeting should be clear and he urged world leaders in attendance to give straight-forward instructions to their respective negotiators when they returned home to conclude the talks at Bali to agree on “concrete and bold action, while bearing in mind the plight of the poor”. He was certain that, backed by political will at the highest levels, Government negotiators would be able to devise effective climate change solutions.
Speaking at the opening session were the Secretary-General; General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim ( former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia); R.K. Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of the State of California; Arti Mehra, Mayor of New Delhi, India; and Catherine Gauthier, Environmental Jeunesse and the Canadian Youth Coalition.
The first thematic plenary on “The challenge of adaptation -- from vulnerability to resilience” was facilitated by United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro, with Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), as Rapporteur. The Co-Chairs were Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark, Owen Arthur, Prime Minister of Barbados, Jan Peter Balkenende, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, and Fakhruddin Ahmed, Chief Adviser of the Non-Party Caretaker Government of Bangladesh.
Speaking at the plenary were the Presidents of Argentina, Guatemala, the Federated States of Micronesia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Honduras, Zambia, Ghana, Angola, Madagascar, Nigeria, Chile and Indonesia.
The Prime Ministers of Thailand, Netherlands, Italy, Republic of Korea, Mauritius, Andorra, Spain, Guinea, Slovenia and Barbados also spoke.
The Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, Belize, Peru, China, Brunei Darussalam, Greece, Botswana and Iran spoke, as well as the Ministers of the Environment for Pakistan, Cambodia, United Republic of Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. The Minister of Finance for India also participated, as did the Vice-President of Colombia, the Special Envoy for the Prime Minister of Japan and the Chief Adviser of the Non-Party Caretaker Government of Bangladesh.
Also speaking was the Chief Executive Officer of the Swiss Reinsurance Company, and the Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council.
Dedicated to the theme of “Mitigation”, Plenary II was facilitated by Gro Harlem Brundtland, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, and its Rapporteur was Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The two Co-Chairs of the morning session were Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile, and Alfred Gusenbauer, Federal Chancellor of Austria.
Speaking at the plenary were the Presidents of Croatia, Poland, Indonesia, Ecuador, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lithuania, Guyana, Slovakia, and Bolivia. The Prime Ministers of Portugal, Denmark, Turkey, Sweden, Norway and Papua New Guinea spoke, as well, as did the Chancellor of Germany and the Federal Chancellor of Switzerland.
Also participating were the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, Uganda, Iceland, Singapore, Algeria, Nepal, Australia, Vanuatu, Uruguay, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates, along with the Ministers of the Environment of Brazil, South Africa, Ireland, Congo, Mexico and Hungary.
The Minister of Science and Technology for Iraq also spoke, as well as the Head of the Federal Agency for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring of the Russian Federation.
The Representatives of Belarus and Uzbekistan participated, as well, as did the President of the European Commission, the Undersecretary for relations with States at the Holy See, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Alcoa, Inc. and Friends of the Earth International.
Thematic Plenary III, entitled “Innovating a climate-friendly world -- the role of technology and its dissemination”, was facilitated by Ricardo Lagod Escobar, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General. The Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Sha Zukang, served as Rapporteur. Co-chairing the morning meeting were Janez Janša, Prime Minister of Slovenia, and José Ramos-Horta, President of Timor-Leste. Surayud Chulanont, Prime Minister of Thailand, and Prince Albert II of Monaco co-chaired the afternoon panel.
Speaking at that meeting were the Presidents of El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Cameroon, Guinea-Bissau and Timor Leste.
The Prime Minister of Canada spoke, as did the Chancellor of Austria.
Also participating were the Environment Ministers of Paraguay, Kazakhstan, Romania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burkina Faso, Haiti and Lebanon.
The Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Albania, Sudan, Cape Verde, Eritrea, Ukraine, Israel and Qatar participated, as did the Petroleum Ministers of Saudi Arabia and the Philippines.
The Minister of Communication, Aviation and Meteorology of the Solomon Islands, the Minister of Economic Development of New Zealand and the Permanent Representative of Belgium also spoke. The Campaign Director for Greenpeace China delivered remarks on behalf of Climate Action Network International.
Thematic Plenary IV, entitled “Financing the response to climate change -- investing in tomorrow”, was facilitated by Han Seung-soo, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General. Kemal Derviş, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) served as Rapporteur. The event was co-chaired by Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of Norway, and Abdoulaye Wade, President of Senegal, for the morning session; and Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, and Fredrik Reinfeldt, Prime Minister of Sweden, for the afternoon session.
Speaking at that meeting were the Presidents of Sri Lanka, France, Latvia, Timor Leste, Panama, Gabon, Serbia, Comoros, Senegal and the United Republic of Tanzania, as well as Prince Albert of Monaco.
Also speaking were the Prime Ministers of Norway, Grenada, Liechtenstein, Antigua and Barbuda, and Montenegro.
The Deputy Prime Ministers of Tuvalu and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic spoke, as did the Vice-President of Gambia.
The Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Myanmar, Egypt, Namibia, Malaysia, Dominica and Maldives spoke, as did the Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration of Luxembourg.
The Environment Ministers of Kenya, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Côte d’Ivoire also participated.
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of the United Kingdom delivered remarks, as did the Deputy Minister of the Popular Power for North America and Multilateral Affairs of Venezuela.
Presidential Adviser on Foreign Affairs of Nicaragua and the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Bhutan participated. The Minister of Presidential and Parliamentary Affairs of Malawi also spoke.
The Permanent Representatives of Burundi, Djibuti, Tajikistan and Tonga also spoke.
The Chief Executive Officer of the “Climate Group”, a civil society organization, also delivered remarks.
A high-level meeting on climate change was convened at Headquarters today by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Expected to address the session, broken up into four thematic plenaries, are senior Government and United Nations officials, civil society and youth representatives, and experts on global warming.
Opening Plenary Session
United Nations Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON opened the event with the introduction of a documentary video, The Way Forward: Confronting Climate Change, produced especially for the event by the National Geographic Society, and based on the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
In his opening address, Secretary-General Ban said that, some 20 years ago, the issue of climate change had first been raised in the General Assembly by the representative of the island nation of Malta. While much had happened since then, the fundamental challenges remained unchanged -– to protect the global climate for present and future generations of mankind -- and had become even more pressing. “Indeed, I am convinced that climate change, and what we do about it, will define us, our era and, ultimately, the global legacy we leave for future generations.”
“Today, the time for doubt has passed. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has unequivocally affirmed the warming of our climate system and linked it to human activity,” he said, adding that those scientists had very clearly outlined the severity of the problem and their message had been simple: we know how to act; if we do not act now, the impact of climate change will be devastating; and we have affordable measures and technologies to begin addressing the problem. That was why he had invited the leaders of the world to join him for the high-level meeting.
“The unprecedented challenge of climate change demands unprecedented leadership. Leadership that is ready to set new directions. Your leadership,” he said. Such high-level participation was all the more important, because the effects of climate change were already being felt around the world –- and mostly by those that were least able to cope with it. Indeed, the terrible irony for many developing countries was that, though they had contributed the least to the process of climate change, they were the ones most at risk from its consequences. For some island States and peoples, it was a matter of survival. “The moral imperative could not be clearer,” he added.
Climate change was a threat to development everywhere, he continued. Indeed, the adverse impacts of climate change could undo much of the investment made to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. “But this is not a zero-sum game,” he said. “By being creative, we can reduce emissions while promoting economic growth.” It was the international community’s opportunity to advance sustainable development; encourage new kinds of cleaner technologies, industries and jobs; and integrate climate change risks into national policies and practices. “We must be guided by the reality that inaction will prove the costliest action of all in the long term,” he declared.
He said that national action must be at the centre of the international community’s response to climate change –- with industrial countries taking the lead. Some 15 years had passed since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) had been finalized in Rio. It had been 10 years since the Kyoto Protocol had been adopted. Yet, most industrialized country emissions were still rising and their per capita emissions remained unacceptably high. At the same time, he said that support for adaptation by poor countries had fallen well short of what would be required.
Addressing those shortcomings required contributions from all countries and all sectors of society, from civil society and business to regional and local governments. All sectors would need to be engaged if global emissions were to peak in the next 15 years and be significantly reduced in the years thereafter, as indicated by the Intergovernmental Panel. Given the nature and magnitude of the challenge, he said that national action alone would be insignificant and that a global framework needed to be agreed that would guarantee the highest level of international cooperation.
“This is precisely the kind of global challenge that the United Nations is best suited to address,” he said, noting that, while he was gratified by the universal recognition of the Organization’s climate change process, he was also dismayed by the slow progress of those negotiations. Today’s meeting was an opportunity to infuse the process with political momentum ahead of crucial negotiations under the Climate Change Convention in Bali this December.
“We need to set the stage for a comprehensive agreement that tackles climate change on all fronts, including adaptation, mitigation, deforestation, clean technologies and resource mobilization,” he said, adding that the international community must do all it could to reach agreement as soon as possible to ensure a global policy was in place by 2012, when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ended. “Our goal must be nothing short of a real breakthrough in Bali,” he said.
The essential parameters of a global framework were increasingly clear, he said. They included, among others, enhanced leadership by the industrialized countries on emission reductions; incentives for developing countries to act, but without sacrificing economic growth or poverty reduction, and fully consistent with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities; significantly increased support for adaptation in developing countries, especially for least developed and small island developing States; strengthened technology development and dissemination; and new approaches to financing, including better use of market-based approaches.
The immediate challenge was to transform common concern into a new consensus on the way forward. That journey began in Bali this December. It would succeed or fail based on the strength of the leadership and commitment displayed by the people in this hall, he said. “We hold the future in our hands. Together, we must ensure that our grandchildren will not have to ask why we failed to do the right thing, and left them to suffer the consequences,” he said, urging the Assembly to send a clear and collective signal to people everywhere. “Today, let the world know that you are ready to shoulder this responsibility and that you will address this challenge head-on,” he declared.
Noting that, over 20 years ago, the General Assembly had acknowledged that climate change was real and that the world could no loner live at the expense of future generations, Assembly President SRGJAN KERIM (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) began his statement by asking whether the body had done enough to tackle the problem. “Obviously not,” he said, which was why delegates were gathered again today.
The science was clear and unequivocal, he continued, stressing that recent events in Africa served as a stark reminder of how global warming would change life if the international community did not act decisively. He commended the Secretary-General for convening such an unprecedented high-level meeting.
The world could overcome the threat of climate change though strong political will, he said. There was an ethical dimension to climate change beyond the impact on ecosystems, economics and communities; there was a moral obligation to humanity. The United Nations and the General Assembly should play a central role in tackling the problem. He called on the delegates to build on the outcome of the Assembly’s first thematic debate on climate change in August, as discussions could serve as a guide for negotiations in Bali. (See Press Releases GA/10607, GA/10609 and GA/10610.
Moreover, he said, broader adaptive strategies should take into account the full environmental, economic and social affects of climate change, as there was a common understanding that solutions must be global. Climate change and the world’s response to it would affect every aspect of human activity, and the United Nations was the appropriate global forum to address the issue.
There had been no shortage of action, he said. However, the many initiatives taken by the Organization since the Framework Convention on Climate Change had come into force alone were not enough in the absence of a binding global agreement, he said, calling for a clear vision of the way forward and a strategy.
He proposed creating a comprehensive road map that would guide the way forward for the United Nations and outline available instruments and necessary structures to address climate change. The process should also draw on the expertise of civil society, business and academia to create a true global consensus for action. At the new year, he intended to convene a thematic debate to forge consensus and elaborate steps for the United Nations to enhance its contribution and coherence. The General Assembly would then consider the full range of policy implications. As climate change was unquestionably the biggest challenge facing humanity in the twenty-first century, there was no more time to waste.
R.K. PACHAURI, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said the Panel would present its synthesis report in mid-November, which would be the most policy relevant document in its series. Discussing the Panel’s findings, he said the human race had substantially altered the Earth’s atmosphere. In 2005, the concentration of CO2 exceeded by far the natural range over the last 650,000 years. Indeed, climate change was accelerating: the twentieth century had seen a temperature increase of 0.74° C and a sea level rise of 17 centimetres.
He said the reduction of glaciers was worrisome, as that had consequences for the availability of water. Precipitation changes were also taking place. Rainfall and snow had increased in temperate regions, but had decreased in Mediterranean regions, a phenomenon that had been exacerbated by extreme precipitation events. Water scarcity would increase in several parts of world and there were concerns over food security, as crops on which communities were dependent would suffer declines.
Discussing the various impacts of climate change, he said the Arctic region was warming twice as fast as rest of the globe, and Africa as whole would likely see 75 million to 250 million people affected by water stress by 2020. Small island developing States were under threat of sea level rise and cyclones. Asian mega deltas were also vulnerable, particularly those with high population density. Coastal regions were threatened by flooding. The inertia of the system was such that climate change would continue for decades, even with stabilization measures. Mitigation efforts must complement adaptation strategies. The costs of adaptation would keep rising as global temperatures increased, while the costs of mitigation would be lower than estimated.
Regarding policy actions, he said a price on carbon was crucial, as technology developments alone would “not do”. Lifestyle and behavioural changes -- such as walking and cycling -- were also needed. The time was up for inaction.
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, Governor of the State of California, which had enacted landmark legislation in 2006 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, said that something remarkable and revolutionary was beginning to stir in his state. California already led the nation in science and technology fields, particularly areas such as biotechnology and nanotechnology. California was home to three of the top universities in the world. He was not mentioning those things to brag, but to show that, “when California took the lead, it meant something”. California was on the cutting edge of what was to come. It had adopted the world’s first carbon fuel standards regime and was paving the way and encouraging the future in other clean and renewable energy fields. He added that California was not alone, and that many States within the European Union had launched broad and innovative initiatives to tackle climate change.
He said that the airline industry had driven growth in California during the middle of the twentieth century, and information and communications technology had driven growth over the past two decades. Now, green, clean technology would take California to the next level. The brightest scientists and the smartest venture capitalists were working hard to develop and implement new energy technology and sources. What did all that mean for the nations of the world? he asked. “Just look at what happened with the cell phone,” he said, recalling that the now ubiquitous device had started out as a convenient gadget for rich people living in rich countries. Today, however, the cost of the technology to produce them had dropped and the costs of the devices themselves had also dropped. Mobile phones were now widely available in most countries and were steadily helping to improve livelihoods and ways of doing business in the developing world.
The same thing would happen with environmental technologies, he said. Moreover, it was in the developed world’s best interest to help poor countries adopt -- and adapt -- the advancements created and perfected by their scientists and other experts. At the same time, all nations of the world must be ready to change. California would do great and amazing things, but the world needed to do great things, too. Indeed, it was time to stop looking back: stop looking back at the Kyoto Protocol; stop looking back at who was responsible for what; stop looking back for someone to blame. It was time to start looking at who was answerable to the future.
Rich and poor nations had different responsibilities, but everyone had the responsibility for action. “Action, action, action,” he said. It was time to come together under a new agreement that could be embraced by rich and poor alike. California would do its part in its country and he urged the United Nations to push its Member States. “Don’t loose hope,” he said, stressing that gloom, doom and disaster were not forgone conclusions. Humanity was smart and nature was amazingly regenerative. “By working together, we can renew the planet,” he declared.
ARTI MEHRA, Mayor of New Delhi, India, said the international community was in the midst of massive transformation; a comprehensive reframing of how the global community engaged with the future of the world. Much had changed since the 2002 Conference of States Parties had taken place in Delhi. Evidence of the impact of climate change was everywhere, particularly in her city. New Delhi had taken steps to promote energy efficiency, sustainable transport and renewable energy, and had seen the benefits on air pollution levels and in employment. Further, New Delhi maintained the world’s largest bus fleet run on clean fuel, and there was hope for other facilities being built ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
She said climate change had been addressed at several global meetings, including the Commission on Sustainable Development, with the knowledge that large-scale action to cut existing and future emissions could be addressed along with urban management concerns. Local authorities were an important beacon that action could be positive and empowering, as they could provide important learning from their experiences. Local authorities had developed programmes, including those for clean cities, climate protection, sustainable transport, waste management and environmental protection, which had led to an improvement in citizen’s lives.
While the necessary conversations and debates would continue among nations, she urged delegates to also invest in local authorities now, so that everyone could benefit from better management of the local environment. “Let’s live as if we are one with the trees,” she said, adding that “the future is in our hands”.
CATHERINE GAUTHIER, Environmental Jeunesse and the Canadian Youth Coalition, also speaking on behalf of Car Tomacruz of Greenpeace, Solar Generation of the Philippines, who was unable to attend, said that, over the past two years, Mr. Tomacruz’s country had been devastated by a series of global-warming-related catastrophes. Developing nations must highlight the issue of climate change and industrial nations must take the lead in ensuring emissions cuts. She challenged the Assembly to take serious commitments in Bali this coming December.
Continuing, she said that the citizens of the world now realized the depth of the climate change problem. They would no longer vote for leaders that ignored the severe effects of global warming. She said that she had just turned 18 and, in the next Canadian elections, she would be among the many youth who would “vote the climate”. In the meantime, the path to a clean, green and prosperous future led to Bali. With that in mind, she challenged world leaders to take serious steps to effect serious change. “Our future is in your hands,” she said.
Thematic Plenary I -- Adaptation
The facilitator for the first thematic plenary on “The challenge of adaptation -- from vulnerability to resilience” was United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro, with Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), as Rapporteur. The Co-Chairs were Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark, Owen Arthur, Prime Minister of Barbados, Jan Peter Balkenende, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, and Fakhruddin Ahmed, Chief Adviser of the Non-Party Caretaker Government of Bangladesh.
In opening the plenary, Deputy Secretary-General ASHA-ROSE MIGIRO discussed the importance of forging a global alliance to cope with the increasing impacts of climate change. The question was not whether the world should prepare itself, but rather at what pace could the world adapt to those impacts. While the United Nations and the international community had made progress, particularly with the Nairobi Work Programme, such initiatives were far from sufficient to meet the climate change challenges, especially in least developed and developing countries.
There was a long way to go to increase resilience, she said, calling for rigorous adaptation strategies. Adaptation must be integrated into all development plans aimed at achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Further, there was a need to provide increased financing to developing countries beyond what was provided through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Moreover, it was important to strengthen regional cooperation, especially in the implementation of adaptation measures at the country level. Calling for global partnerships to promote North-South and South-South cooperation, she said South-South cooperation should play a more robust role, as experience and lessons could be shared. Empowered by States, the United Nations was well placed to coordinate the adaptation process. The Organization would be at the full disposal of States, especially for developing countries, to help facilitate implementation and adaptation strategies.
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN, Prime Minister of Denmark, said that climate change was the principle environmental challenge of our time. Its impact was global and, while no one could escape, the world’s developing and least developed countries would be most impacted. But, at the same time, low-lying developed countries would also be faced with huge challenges. All developed countries would have to make serious changes in their building techniques, sewage and waste disposal systems and managing farmlands and forests.
He went on to say that, even if the most stringent measures were put in place, climate change was expected to continue. With that in mind, long-term adaptation initiatives, together with mitigation plans, would have to be put in place. The real challenge might not be climate change itself, but whether the international community could cooperate effectively to address it. The thematic plenaries that would be the interactive forums at the centre of today’s event would provide the opportunity for representatives from all sectors to share the experiences, best practices and lessons learned. He also expected the participants to share their view about what they expected of the international mechanisms and frameworks to contain the impacts of climate change.
NESTOR KICHNER, President of Argentina, said that everyone recognized that developing countries were those that had generated the least amount of pollution that was now affecting the climate so evidently and seriously. The developed countries had a moral duty to act, but, so far, efforts had been timid or had fallen short of expectations. Argentina had begun to take its own steps to address global warming to help it adapt –- particularly its agriculture systems -– to the future challenges that were no doubt ahead. He added that, as the impact of climate change was felt in agriculture and produce source countries, the ripple effect of that impact would be felt by all countries. The time to work towards adaptation was now.
It was impossible, 15 years after the Climate Change Convention had been agreed upon, to still be searching for funding mechanisms. It was also impossible that nations were still discussing who would be the most affected by the phenomenon. Evidence was now making it clear who that would be. All nations must ensure that the gaps developing countries were facing, particularly in access to technologies, were addressed. “We must move from commitment to global action,” he said.
OSCAR BERGER PERDOMO, President of Guatemala, also speaking as President Pro Tempore of the Central American Integration System and associating himself with the statement to be made by Pakistan on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said climate change was not a topic of the future; rather a problem that had shown obvious effects in the last 10 years. The increasing frequency of natural disasters, such as Hurricane Mitch of 1998, was associated with greenhouse gas emissions. Concerted efforts were needed and he stressed the importance of shared, but differentiated, responsibilities. Without such efforts, countries would face damage to their populations, environment and infrastructure. In the worst-case scenario, the capacity for survival was at stake. Sea level rise, the loss of soil and the beginning of permanent drought processes had been aggravated by society’s economic and social vulnerability.
He said that, while countries were contributing to the problem by continuing their high dependence on fossil fuels, they were also part of the solution, particularly through their forests, which offered carbon sinks. Guatemala was promoting bi- and tri-national initiatives, such as a Mezo-American barrier reef project, as well as national environmental policies and cleaner production initiatives. The country was also fostering other actions in the Central American region. A Central American presidential summit on climate change, to take place in 2008 in Honduras, would discuss a Central American strategy to improve information on a regional adaptation plan, among other things.
EMANUEL MORI, President of the Federated States of Micronesia, said his country was experiencing the earliest impacts of climate change, particularly in the agriculture and fishing sectors. Marine and terrestrial species were increasingly damaged by environmental stresses. Extreme weather events had destroyed crops, contaminated water wells and threatened the existence of coastal communities. Accordingly, Micronesia was moving forward with buildings that could sustain such events and preserving beaches. Additional financial resources were needed, however.
Small island developing States could only do so much to increase their resilience against climate change, he said. How could an atoll island build resilience against sea level rise? The retreat of local populations was not possible for those on low-lying islands. How did one justify moving an entire society from their ancestral homes? The political and social costs of such relocation would be too steep. Micronesia consisted of low-lying islands, some inhabited for thousands of years and situated in beautiful atolls. If those atolls were destroyed, that would be a loss for humanity. Protection for the people of low-lying islands was needed, and he urged negotiators in Bali to keep that in mind. All people were obliged to be responsible stewards of the Earth, he said. Man had, thus far, not done a good job in meeting that responsibility.
VACLAV KLAUS, President of the Czech Republic said that, contrary to the artificially and unjustifiably created worldwide perception, the increase of global temperatures had been very small when compared historically, and practically negligible in its actual impact upon human beings. The “hypothetical threat” connected with future global warming depended exclusively on “very speculative forecasts”, not upon undeniable past experience, trends and tendencies. He added that, as yet, there was no scientific consensus about the causes of recent climate changes.
“To prematurely proclaim the victory of one group over another would be a tragic mistake and I am afraid we are making it,” he said. Different levels of development, income and wealth in different nations made achieving a universal solution to climate change a costly, unfair and at times discriminatory process. “The already developed countries do not have the right to impose any additional burden on the less developed countries,” he said, adding that “dictating ambitious and for them entirely inappropriate environmental standards is wrong and should be excluded from the menu of recommended policy measures”. Instead, he suggested two competing Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports be published detailing both sides of the climate change issue. That would provide the basis for a more informed debate on the topic. Further, countries should be left alone to tackle the problem as they best see fit and to allow individual nations to decide what priority to assign this issue among other competing goals.
TASSOS PAPADOPOULOS, President of Cyprus, said the ecosystem in his region had been under stress for some time. The marine environment had sustained considerable damage; droughts and heat waves were longer, more frequent and more intense. The United Nations was the appropriate framework in terms of legitimacy, effectiveness and efficiency to design and execute a global solution, not only in his own region, but also in developing countries, island States and among the least developed countries. Technical analysis of risk management, coupled with appropriate infrastructure, would be essential elements of any future strategy. He added that no strategy on climate change should undermine the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
He concluded that now was the time to attack the problem of climate change by building on the multilateral framework created by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol. Learning from its successes and failures, nations must now proceed to elaborate a follow-up mechanism to address the many challenges of climate change in a national, regional and international context.
JOSE MANUEL ZELAYA, President of Honduras, said that, over the past six month, his Government had embarked on a broad forest and land protection programme that involved authorities, as well as the military. The result had been a significant decline in forest fires and illegal logging. Large tracts of land had also been declared nature preserves, and most Indo-American forests and their unique habitats were now protected areas.
Honduras was also pursuing a policy of zero carbon emissions and had signed the Kyoto Protocol and the Convention on Biodiversity, among other global initiatives. Honduras was a leader in clean development among developing countries. He said that his Government was encouraging such initiatives in other countries and was stressing that economic development and environmental protection could go hand in hand. Sustainable management of resources could in fact spur development.
LEVY PATRICK MWANAWASA, President of Zambia, called climate change one of the most serious threats to sustainable development confronting the planet today. Recently, his Government had implemented a national programme to help the country adapt to that threat. The programme identified four sectors as being particularly vulnerable: agriculture, health, energy and water. Of those, the most pressing threat was drought in the agricultural sector and the economic and humanitarian consequences resulting from it.
He went on to point out the difficulties for his country in dealing appropriately with the threat of climate change. The problems of HIV/AIDS and poverty reduction were already a significant burden on his country’s economy, and left little extra to deal with environmental issues. The lack of adequate technology and early warning systems were also impediments to responding effectively. He, therefore, called upon the international community to provide resources and capacity-building, in order to help countries such as his own respond to the adverse effects of that global problem.
JOHN AGYEKUM KUFUOR, President of Ghana, applauded the United Nations for its initiative on driving the climate change agenda forward, and expressed hope that the heightened awareness would galvanize a global response for individual and collective action among all nations. In Africa and other poor developing countries, erratic rainfall patterns, droughts, desertification and other weather-related disasters were already endangering human life and affecting agricultural productivity. Those conditions exacerbated the already gravely handicapped existence of those developing nations and impaired national efforts for poverty reduction and overall development.
He said his country and other poor developing countries “can hardly make a dent” in the challenge, individually or collectively. He called upon the United Nations to mobilize developed as well as developing nations to seek an integrated solution. “A global vision with global resolve to plan and mobilize resources on an equally global scale is imperative,” he said. Specifically, the United Nations must continue to assist developing nations in their efforts to attain the Millennium Development Goals and to redouble its efforts to support those nations with food security and better management of land, forests and coastal systems.
JOSE EDUARDO DOS SANTOS, President of Angola, said climate change caused by human actions today posed an unprecedented challenge. The effects were already being felt and complicating efforts to eradicate poverty. The challenge was particularly serious in developing countries, considering that their inadequate capacity, lack of necessary investments and weak access to technology made them more vulnerable. Storms, hurricanes and variations in seasonal cycles, among other phenomena, had affected millions of people. No country was immune, and it was urgent for the international community to take concerted action to combat those effects. The key was a coherent commitment by all and contribution commensurate with responsibilities. It was imperative to agree on strategies and mechanisms for reducing greenhouse gasses.
He was concerned that actions would fail without the necessary financial and technical resources, urging Member States, particularly developed countries, to meet commitments and engage in technology transfer that would improve institutional capacities. He supported the need to accelerate commitments and start on a plan for the post-2012 period. Angola had ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, and was committed to their implementation. Moreover, the country was adapting its national legislation and had enacted an environmental law. He also foresaw the creation of a national carbon fund. He stressed that environmental legislation was compulsory, noting that no investment was approved without it. Angola was committed to eliminating the burning of gas that resulted from oil production and converting it to liquefied natural gas. Presentations today would substantially contribute to the establishment of a global strategy and implementation of practical actions to address climate change for a better tomorrow.
SURAYUD CHULANONT, Prime Minister of Thailand, said that, looking ahead to the Bali meeting, each nation’s response was a “jigsaw piece” of the climate change puzzle. If one piece was left out, the total picture would be incomplete. The calamities caused by fluctuating weather and other natural phenomena were warning signs about the devastating impact of climate change. “We ignore them at our peril,” he said, going on to highlight some of the adaptation initiatives Thailand had launched to cope with climate change. Through, among others, its New Theory in Agriculture programme, the Government was encouraging farmers to promote sustainability by mixing crop growth with other income-generating activities. Such plans reduced vulnerability to crop failure and other threats.
At the same time, while Thailand was promoting other socio-economic changes such as renewable energy and energy efficiency, the Government was aware that fossil fuels would remain dominant in the energy mix for the next two decades. That was the case for most developing countries. With that in mind, such countries needed to obtain new technologies that would enable them to move from low-cost carbon technologies to cleaner, more advanced ones. Thailand supported, in that regard, the Sydney APEC leader’s Declaration on Climate Change, Energy Security and Clean Development that called for the international community’s support for effective adaptation strategies, including through appropriate policy exchanges, finance, capacity-building and technology transfer.
MARC RAVALOMANANA, President of Madagascar, said that, over the past 50 years, the average temperature in his country had increased, the number of days without rain had increased and the number of violent cyclones had nearly doubled. If trends persisted, disease such as malaria would increase, desert areas would expand and some plants and animals would become extinct. Madagascar’s biodiversity -- a “world treasure” -- would be threatened.
To solve that global predicament, he proposed an “ecological partnership” between industrialized countries and Africa. The partnership would be charged with finding creative solutions to environmental problems, creating a funding and investment strategy and a strategy for monitoring progress. His country had taken strong measures to protect the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting renewable energy. Some industrialized nations were dragging their feet on the climate change issue and he urged all nations to adopt and implement the Kyoto Protocol. He asked all nations to provide the creativity, commitment and leadership to address the global challenge.
UMARU MUSA YAR ‘ADUA, President of Nigeria, said his country was extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and the realities in Africa demonstrated how climate change and substainable development were inextricably linked. His Government’s adaptation strategy had resulted in the diversion of scarce resources from achievement of some of the Millennium Goals. He also pointed to other areas of the continent where adverse effects of climate change had been a major contributing factor to some of the conflicts in the region. That had been one of the most serious obstacles to combating poverty on the continent.
Africa contributed least to global warming but was most adversely affected by climate change, he said. Because African countries lacked the capacity and financial resources to adapt to climate change, the international community needed to treat the continent as a special case. There was a critical need to intensify financial support, provide appropriate and affordable technology, and provide capacity-building to assist African countries in meeting the challenges of climate change. Next month, Nigeria would host the preparatory meeting of the African group of negotiations under the Climate Change Convention. He expressed hope that the event would stimulate enhanced human, institutional and systemic capacity-building initiatives to effectively confront the challenge of adaptation.
ROMANO PRODI, Prime Minister of Italy, said the world was overheating due to emissions created by humanity. Rather than resign itself to the phenomenon, the international community must act, as fatalism had never benefited anyone. Apart from anything else, there was a moral obligation to future generations. The consequences could be devastating to the planet. As climate change had been studied, he called on countries to hasten the pace to establish a new covenant with nature. The Summit of the most industrialized countries in Heiligendamm in June had sent a powerful political signal, which countries must now flesh out. He noted that the forthcoming Washington and Berlin meetings would be important steps in preparing for the Bali world conference in December. Global problems demanded global solutions, he stressed, and the United Nations alone could provide the framework in which countries must act. An approach in which climate change, energy security and economic development were all facets of the same problem could offer new opportunities.
Europe had taken important decisions at the spring summit of the Heads of State and Government, including the unilateral 20 per cent reduction of greenhouse gases by 2020, and other ambitious measures on energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and biofuels. Any post-Kyoto agreement could be achieved only in the United Nations and Italy would continue to play its part. He discussed four crucial points on the issue of adaptation. On planning, he said adaptation measures must be incorporated into national development plans. Second, the ability to know things in advance -- or predictability -- was one of the essential elements in drawing up adaptation plans. The role of development aid policies was decisive, as climate change often thwarted poverty-alleviation programmes. Finally, water was a valuable and limited resource. He asked for water to be internationally acknowledged as a common good and an inalienable human right.
JAN PETER BALKENENDE, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, said the world was already seeing the effects of climate change, highlighting crops lost in Africa to heat and drought, problems in Bangladesh with salinated wells and major flooding in Indonesia. He called for tackling the cause of climate change and drastically limiting greenhouse gas emissions, noting that the Netherlands was aiming to cut them by 30 per cent by 2020. None could afford to ignore responsibilities, and countries with rapidly growing economies would also need to commit to agreements aimed at making production cleaner and more efficient.
Such actions were not enough, he continued. It was important to adapt to the effects of climate change. Even before the start of the second millennium, farmers in the Netherlands had been digging ditches to drain water and make land arable. Water influenced everything in the country, from the landscape and cities to trade and public administration. The oldest administrative bodies were the water boards, a tradition that today affected how the Netherlands viewed the current challenges. For nearly 50 years, the Netherlands had worked on an advanced system of flood defences, reinforced dykes and blocked sea inlets. The Netherlands gave climate change much attention in its development relations with other countries, and experience had taught the country to factor adaptation into all policy decisions. On the United Nations Climate Change Conference to take place at year-end, he said the Netherlands strongly advocated a joint approach within the framework of the Convention. He called for more support to the most vulnerable developing countries. The Netherlands was keen to share its knowledge.
HAN DUCK-SOO, Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea, said that, as a rapidly industrializing country, the Republic of Korea had been pursuing energy efficiency as part of its national energy security strategy. Since adopting the Kyoto Protocol, the Government had been implementing successive three-year action plans that covered mitigation, adaptation and research and development, as well as public awareness campaigns. As a result, his country had achieved a level of energy efficiency with a gradual decrease in its greenhouse gas emissions growth rate. He added that his country had also learned some valuable lessons, including, among others, the need to strengthen public-private partnerships and to promote market-based mechanisms. Those lessons would be reflected in the country’s fourth national action plan for 2008-2012.
NAVINCHANDRA RAMGOOLAM, Prime Minister of Mauritius, said that, while climate change was mostly an environmental issue, it also had pronounced, transboundary, social, economic and political dimensions. That was particularly true for developing countries already struggling to address other serious issues. By example, he said that global warming had an impact on practically all areas of life in Mauritius, from shrinking shorelines that hampered tourism to a recent explosion in mosquito-borne diseases that affected human and livestock health. With that in mind, he said that the international community should seriously rethink its funding mechanisms aimed at combating the effects of climate change, with a particular focus on small island developing States. Finances should be targeted to first address the challenges faced by those most urgently in need, and then towards providing better access by developing countries to the new technologies that they could put in place to help themselves.
FAKHRUDDIN AHMED, Chief Adviser of the Non-Party Caretaker Government of Bangladesh, said the impacts of climate change were no longer a matter of conjecture, and Bangladesh was on the threshold of an environmental Armageddon. Events such as droughts and storm surges were occurring with regularity, fundamentally altering people’s lives, and particularly impacting efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. That was especially true for developing countries. Bangladesh was particularly vulnerable, as it was chronically prone to inundation. He called on countries to address factors that increased flooding. Further, there was concern that growing climate change would displace millions of people worldwide. The first step was to recognize the responsibility of all nations towards climate change, and the post-Kyoto regime should address and provide for environmental refugees.
An effective response to climate change challenges must strike a balance between mitigation and adaptation measures, he said, noting that differentiated responsibilities must be upheld, and carbon-neutral economic growth promoted. Developing countries, especially the least developed countries, could not bear the full costs, and the post-Kyoto period must facilitate the development and transfer of new technologies for a carbon-neutral future. Adaptation was necessary to cope with the dimensions of climate change and eliminating near-term threats. Further, access to know-how at affordable terms was critical. Investment was needed, as resource pools, such as the Special Climate Change Fund, remained perennially inadequate. Future frameworks should address the priorities of the most vulnerable economies, and resources should supplement the official development assistance (ODA) traditionally pledged for poverty eradication. He urged delegates to commit to fast-tracking climate funding.
ALBERT PINTAT, Prime Minister of Andorra, said his Government was actively trying to control its waste disposal and emissions patterns. Indeed, its small size allowed it to react rapidly to challenges as they arose. The Government was aware that the well-being of the entire country hinged on maintaining environmental quality, promoting recycling and developing renewable energy. Andorra and its people were a unique part of a mountainous area, and the Government believed that, while national efforts were critical, a global vision that spelled out protections for water, land and the atmosphere was also necessary.
JOSE LUIS RODRIGUEZ ZAPATERO, Prime Minister of Spain, said that the international community must mount a global integrated response to climate change that addressed the needs of both the developed and the developing world. For its part, Spain had moved aggressively forward on plans to reduce energy consumption and emissions. The international community must support the efforts of the poorest countries to make use of private resources, new technologies developed in the industrialized world and the United Nations system itself. Spain was aware that success required increased investment in research and development, particularly in developing countries.
He said that the Climate Change Convention must play a greater role in disseminating information on initiatives and strategies already under way. The aim must be to prevent global warming from sparking tragedies throughout the world. In Bali, political leaders must commit to a post-Kyoto climate change regime, which should be firmed up by 2009 at the latest. The people of the world looked to the United Nations as a “house of hope” -- place that not only protected them from poverty and conflict, but also from the effects of climate change. All Member States, therefore, had a duty to work together towards a comprehensive solution.
LANSANA KOUYATÉ, Prime Minister of Guinea, said only a global, multilateral partnership would be able to develop the strategies necessary to solve the problems caused by climate change. His country had already experienced the harsh consequences of that global issue with an increase in oceanic water levels, flooding, soil erosion and the disappearance of forest cover.
He said rampant poverty in his country prevented him from allocating enough technological and scientific resources for a sustainable preservation policy. He asked Member States to respect their obligations on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the transfer of adequate technologies to poorer countries and the provision of adequate financial resources. He also expressed his hope that the upcoming conference on climate change in Bali would be a call to action for all nations to fully implement the Kyoto Protocol and the Rio Convention on Environment and Development.
JACQUES AIGRAIN, Chief Executive Officer of the Swiss Reinsurance Company, said it was important for the largest global reinsurer to share its insights with the international community on managing and adapting to climate change. Though the global cost of adaptation to climate change was difficult to estimate, it had been expected to reach into the tens of billions of United States dollars annually. In managing climate change, risk avoidance and mitigation strategies must be the first priority -- “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, he said.
He suggested creating new forms of partnership between the public and private sectors. The private sector would have the resources, but not the power to set appropriate frameworks; the public sector would take on that role and facilitate adaptive responses by the private sector, individuals and the public. In addressing the challenge, technological solutions, managerial solutions, policy-based solutions and behavioural changes should all be considered. In closing, he pointed out that no State or country could protect itself completely against the effects of climate change, and risks that could not be avoided should be transferred and distributed over as many shoulders as possible.
JAN PETER BALKENENDE, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, said adaptation measures should be at the core of every country’s economic, social and governance systems. Most countries must do more in that respect, with national development policies and aid programmes, including a climate risk assessment. International cooperation efforts should promote the expansion of a vulnerability assessment at the local level, enhancement of public awareness and establishment of early warning systems. A coordinated approach to regional cooperation was necessary to increase technology transfer and research. He invited delegates to build on what had been discussed in the morning and contribute their practices to a dialogue that moved the international agenda forward.
JANEZ JANŠA, Prime Minister of Slovenia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said developed nations must step up their support for the poorest nations who had no share in the creation of the climate change problem, but who were already suffering disproportionate and irreversible damage. Climate change should be fully integrated into strategies for poverty reduction and development planning and budgeting. He added that failing to do so would severely jeopardize the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
Stepping up adaptation efforts alone would not be good enough, he said. Severe climate change consequences could only be prevented by early and drastic cuts of greenhouse gas emissions. That was why the European Union’s objective was to keep the global average temperature increase to below 2° C compared to pre-industrial levels; anything more would risk dangerous and unpredictable climate change and would increase the costs of adaptation. The European Union believed the Climate Change Convention should play a catalytic role in “climate proofing” development cooperation, plans and programmes, both in the short and long term. He added that provisions and commitments for adaptation under the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol should be enhanced, and their implementation better coordinated to maximize effectiveness in a post-2012 agreement.
Speaking on behalf of his country, he pointed to the loss of lives, houses and roads during the heavy rainstorms last week in Slovenia, and acknowledged that Slovenia was not immune to climate change issues. An inclusive, regional approach would be the best step towards a solution with developed countries helping developing ones, specifically with expertise, capacity-building, adaptation technologies and financial assistance. He added that the best adaptation is mitigation, combined with sustained economic development. Slovenia was scheduled to take over the European Union presidency on 1 January 2008, and promised to continue to work towards achieving agreed Union goals and commitments in the field of climate change.
MICHELLE BACHELET, President of Chile, said the United Nations was spearheading a worldwide effort to tackle climate change and global warming. After years of scepticism, the scientific evidence had led to one conclusion: man had jeopardized the future of humanity, which posed an ethical challenge to the international community. To address that major challenge, a global mobilization was needed of a magnitude comparable only to the mobilization for peace that had given birth to the San Francisco Charter in 1945. Calling on delegates to take up the challenge in the context of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, she said Chile had reiterated the principle of shared but differentiated responsibility and proposed to update it.
Although the Protocol had imposed on countries specific emission-reduction obligations, something more was needed, she said. It was necessary for developing countries to take additional emission-reduction actions within the ambit of the Convention. She proposed applying the same principle of differentiated responsibility among the developing countries. Chile had adopted a national climate change strategy and was prepared to make an additional effort. That would be possible only if a universally accepted criterion of equity was applied. Developing countries could view the challenge as an opportunity and take advantage of the situation to lend impetus to education and research. It would be possible to convert action into a pro-development process. Quoting an inhabitant of Rapa Nui Island, she said: “Our planet is like an island in the middle of the ocean… we can destroy it or look after it, but we cannot leave it or escape from it.”
OWEN ARTHUR, Prime Minister of Barbados, said there was no scientific or political reason for delaying an immediate response to the global crisis of climate change. Not acting, he said, would be tantamount to a crime against humanity. For small island developing States, adapting to the adverse impacts of climate change was not an option, it was an absolute imperative. The longer the international community delayed implementation of deep emission cuts, the more adaptation would be required and at much greater costs. That threatened to reverse years of developmental efforts and undermine the objectives contained in the Barbados Programme of Action for Small Island Developing States.
He added that the costs of adaptation and potential economic losses associated with climate change were significantly and disproportionately higher for small island developing States than other for countries. Barbados had taken steps at national and regional levels to develop and implement climate change strategies with much of its own resources. He called on developed countries to assume the lead in significantly reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions and providing the necessary financial and technological assistance to support the adaptation efforts of developing countries.
FRANCISCO SANTOS CALDERÓN, Vice-President of Colombia, spoke of the need for all countries to share in the responsibility for finding solutions to climate change, despite perhaps not having shared equally in its creation. Describing his country’s environmental challenges, he said the first step towards a solution would be the transfer of environmentally sound technologies to developing countries. Technology transfer would include practical knowledge, experience and equipment to mitigate climate change produced largely by greenhouse gases.
He added that the transfer of financial resources would also be necessary for developing countries. International agencies, banks and developed countries must commit to sharing the cost. For Colombia, he spoke specifically of the cost of conserving the Amazon rainforest. In such circumstances, a mechanism could focus on the recognition and inclusion of “avoided deforestation” as an eligible activity under the post-Kyoto regime. Recent international studies had estimated the cost of adapting to climate change in developing countries at well beyond the funds allocated for adaptation within the Climate Change Convention. Consequently, he said, it was necessary to look for creative solutions that took into account the national circumstances of developing countries, while acquiring greater capacity, information and experience to broaden those efforts.
YOSHIRO MORI, Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of Japan, stated that, this year, his country had launched several environmental initiatives to counter the problem of global climate change. The first, named “Cool Earth 50” proposed setting a long-term, worldwide target of cutting global emissions by half from the current level by 2050. A second initiative, entitled “3 principles”, advocated for a post-2012 international framework in which all major emitters participated; the ground rules were flexible; and compatibility between environmental protection and economic compatibility was achieved. Finally, as chair of the Group of Eight next year, Japan planned to engender discussion of climate change among the major economies and take a role in providing technological assistance to developing countries.
He went on to say that climate change knew no borders and that any effort to address it was doomed to fail, unless all countries participate. Each country should voluntarily reduce or eliminate tariffs on products that diminished greenhouse gases, such as hybrid cars, wind power generators and solar batteries. Every country should promote green purchasing, as Japan had, by obliging its Government to purchase environmentally evaluated products. Last, it must not be forgotten that changes in lifestyle and behaviour, such as setting caps on heaters and air conditioners, could result in a major reduction of greenhouse gases.
MUKHDOOM SYED FAISAL SALEH HAYAT, Minister for Environment and Special Envoy to the President of Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said his delegation was concerned by the fact that the adverse effects of climate change threatened the sustainable development, livelihoods and very existence of many developing countries, in particular in Africa, the least developed countries, the small island developing States and disaster-prone developing countries. The most important question facing the international community today was whether its members could muster the political will to implement the commitments they had committed themselves to address.
The Group of 77 had consistently called for efforts to address climate change in a manner that enhanced and ensured the sustainable development and sustained economic growth of the developing countries, and the universal elimination of poverty, hunger and disease. It was important for all concerned to pledge themselves to fully and faithfully implement the commitments they had undertaken regarding internationally agreed development goals. The Group would also take the opportunity to renew its call upon all Member States that had not yet done so to ratify and implement the Climate Change Convention and its Kyoto Protocol, which remained the central multilateral framework for cooperative actions to address the climate change challenge.
He said that developed countries must continue to take the lead, as they had pledged, in the reduction of their greenhouse gas emissions. They must also support developing countries’ efforts to adapt an environment-friendly path to development by providing additional and substantial financial and technological assistance. A substantial increase in official development assistance was also required, far and above the long-standing 0.7 per cent, including some 0.15 to 0.20 per cent targets for the least developed countries. Turning to the situation in his own country, he said that the Pakistani Government was deeply committed to global efforts to address climate change and had, among other things, taken measures such as the establishment of an impact studies centre and the launching of a forestry project aimed at carbon sequestration.
FELIPE PéREZ ROQUE, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, said almost nothing promised 15 years ago at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development had been accomplished, and now the situation was much more critical. For its part, his Government had agreed on two strategies: mitigation and adaptation. Nonetheless, the problem could not be solved unless there was a shift in the production and consumption patterns of greenhouse gases. “The problem will not be resolved by purchasing the quota of poor countries. That is a selfish and inefficient path,” he said, adding: “Nor will it be resolved by turning food into fuels as proposed by President Bush. It is a sinister idea.”
He said his Government rejected attempts to pressure underdeveloped countries to enter into binding commitments to reduce emissions. Instead, the onus was on developed countries to provide the technology, funding and training of human resources to developing nations. He expressed the hope that the upcoming conference on climate change in Bali would produce a clear mandate for developed countries to reduce, by 2020, emissions by no less than 40 per cent compared to their 1990 levels.
PATRICIA A. L. COCHRAN, Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, said that from the melting ice cap of Greenland to the thinning ice of Canada and the eroding shores of Alaska, she represented people of the Arctic, who relied economically, culturally and spirituality on the lands and seas of a fragile, yet abundant, environment. “Our melting environment -- an indicator of concern for the whole world -– is now under the intense scrutiny of researchers and policy-makers,” she said, adding that it was unfortunate that such attention had come so late. She said that indigenous people were the most marginalized and vulnerable people on the planet. As the earth warmed, those living on small islands or large continents in the South faced serious threats as their villages were damaged by unpredictable and extreme weather, as salt water seeped into freshwater sources, as the migration patterns of the animals around them changed. “And we are told to adapt,” she said.
While she was deeply honoured to address the Assembly, at the same time, she was “deeply frustrated” that it was on the theme of “adaptation and resilience”, rather than on how to reverse the effects of climate change. Indigenous peoples had the inner knowledge and had been collectively aware that, “if we continued to spew pollution into the air, it would eventually come back to haunt us”. Indeed, she believed it was the link indigenous people had to the sea and land that had allowed them to think about natural resource stewardship much more profoundly than others. “We will not be relegated to the role of powerless victims,” she said, noting that, through the experience of colonialism, indigenous peoples had become resilient and could indeed adapt when necessary. The time to act was now, she said, emphasizing that technology alone was not the answer. The way forward was through the elaboration of a process at Bali that put indigenous peoples and their unique knowledge at the centre.
LISA SHOMAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belize, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said climate change was one of the greatest challenges facing the planet. The meeting today sent a powerful political signal to the negotiations in Bali.
In her region, the interdependency of ecology and economy was evident, particularly on the coasts and within the agriculture, fishing and hydrocarbon industries. Furthermore, the region’s public health was subject to the caprice of climate. During the last decade, the region had experienced warmer nights, increased frequency of coral bleaching and outbreaks of pest infestation. The Caribbean also faced the loss of water through increased evaporation rates, leaving less water available for recharging of aquifers.
Recalling that hurricane Ivan had devastated Grenada, she said that changing rainfall patterns in the region had also resulted in extended droughts. Between 1990 and 2002, an outbreak of the pinebark beetle had destroyed pine forest reserves. Regional research had shown that a further 1 per cent rise in sea temperatures would result in the further reduction of sea life and affect yields of red kidney beans. European Union leaders had made a firm commitment to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent, and were willing to commit to a 30 per cent reduction compared to 1990 levels. A further 2° C rise in global temperature could pose insurmountable challenges for the Caribbean, and she urged emerging industrialized countries to undertake an aggressive mitigation regime. Noting that the Caribbean contributed a miniscule percentage of greenhouse gas emissions, she said mitigation was required by all countries. Adaptation was particularly imperative for the Caribbean, and the special needs of small island developing States must be met.
P. CHIDAMBARAM, Finance Minister and Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of India, said his country had produced 662 billion units of electricity in 2006-2007 from all sources for more than 1 billion people. Energy was the sine qua non of development, and India was profoundly concerned about environmental degradation and climate change. Noting that India’s per capita CO2 emissions were among the lowest in the world, he said developing countries carried an inordinate share of the burden of climate change, though developed countries contributed a high level of emissions. Developing countries were, therefore, obliged to augment their capacity to cope with climate change.
Acknowledging the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, he said adaptation had been integral to India’s development process. The country had spent over 2 per cent of its gross domestic product annually on development measures that included strong adaptation content. India had also passed an energy conservation act in 2001, an electricity act in 2003 and had, in 2006, adopted a national environment policy. Furthermore, India had launched the “Green India” project, the world’s largest afforestation project, and had raised energy efficiency in all major energy intensive sectors. He said the atmosphere was a common resource, and India was committed to sustainable development. His country was also fully sensitive to the concerns of small island developing States, and offered that his country’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions would at no stage exceed the per capita emissions of developed countries.
JOSÉ ANTONIO GARCIA BELAUNDE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Peru, said that the pressing nature of climate change meant that coherent international efforts needed to be addressed. The trend in worsening weather patterns was beginning to affect Peru. The country was also losing its glaciers at a rapid rate. Peru promoted the approach of integrated adaptation plans, particularly towards the protection of its most vulnerable populations. The Government would promote local-level strategies in keeping with the needs of each city or community, in cooperation with local government and civil society officials. At the same time, the international community must do more to promote raising awareness and resource-mobilization efforts, especially through the United Nations. The Organization’s role was irreplaceable, in that regard.
YANG JIECHI, Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, said that climate change was an important development issue that concerned the well-being of people of all countries. In that context, the United Nations played an irreplaceable role in tackling the issue. Today’s meeting should help build consensus through full and democratic discussions. He hoped it would make progress in several aspects, particularly in adhering to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. He urged developed countries to meet emission reduction targets, help developing countries build capacity and continue to take the lead in reducing emissions after 2012. It also was important to uphold the framework established under the Climate Change Convention. Advancing international cooperation in a balanced way was also necessary, and mitigation, adaptation, financing and technology issues should receive equal attention. Financial assistance and technology transfer also should be increased for developing countries.
As adaptation to climate change was of greatest concern to developing countries, China supported practical cooperation to strengthen capacity-building. In that connection, he emphasized promoting sustainable development, and said all countries should make adaptation an important part of efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The Adaptation Fund under the Protocol should be launched at an early date and be accessible to all developing countries. Further, operation of the Global Environment Fund should be improved and financing sources should be expanded. Further, advances in science should be applied and technology transfer cooperation enhanced. China was a developing country severely affected by climate change and the Government took environmental protection as a basic national policy. A national steering group on climate change had been established.
GIADALLA A. ETTALHI ( Libya) said the world was witnessing the phenomenon of climate change, as seen by global warming, rain scarcity, desertification and sea level rise. Those events had been accompanied by an inability to take measures to end the problem, which was hindering development, he said. He stressed that imbalances in ecology and human settlements had been seen and coastal countries in Africa could be a living example of all such phenomena. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report had stressed the impacts of climate change, requiring a regulatory framework in accordance with the decision taking at the Rio Conference in 1992. Developed countries should show leadership by helping developing countries, and prevention measures must be taken.
Fossil fuels were the “driving force” of the world’s economies, he continued, adding that energy could also be addressed through advanced technologies that might not harm the environment. The Climate Change Convention had stipulated that technology must be financed and transferred to fossil fuel-dependent developing countries. Climate change was one of the major challenges facing humankind, which posed a challenge to sustainable development. There was a moral responsibility to deal with the problem. The international community must adapt and mitigate the impacts of the phenomenon. The adaptation process required a greater international effort. Plans must be aimed at sustainable development. Forest management must be improved and developing countries must be given the means to manage forest and fisheries policies. Mitigation and financing were no less important, and he underscored the need for coherence in international partnerships.
MOHAMED BOLKIAH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Brunei Darussalam, said there had been a lot of meetings this year about climate change and how it would affect countries in the future. While his impression at those events had been that some concrete efforts had been enacted, he was worried that ordinary citizens needed to be more involved. People just didn’t know enough about climate change and they had to learn very fast. For its part, Brunei was moving beyond education and promoting public-private partnerships to help with awareness. The Government had also undertaken efforts to build support among individuals. He said the help of the United Nations, or other international organizations, would be welcome in reaching the shared goal of comprehensively addressing climate change.
DORA BAKOYANNIS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece, said that, for too long, climate change had been approached as an “abstract phenomenon” -- understood by scientists, scorned by ill-advised sceptics, downplayed by vested interests and ignored by myopic political systems. The world must now realize that climate change could no longer be seen as an environmental, in isolation. It was a question of ethics, human rights and human security; a threat to sustainable economic development and world health; and a possible cause of major future conflicts. It was an all encompassing peril and it must be approached that way.
She said she had come to the United Nations today on the back of a human, environmental and economic tragedy experienced by her country only a month ago. As predicted by the Intergovernmental Planet on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report, raging fires had ravaged southern Greece, claiming the lives of more than 65 people and taking the homes and livelihoods of thousands more. Having had that recent, painful experience of the catastrophic potential of climate change, Greece believed that the world leaders assembled at the United Nations must send a strong message to negotiators at Bali on the urgency of achieving a global agreement on mitigation. The concern was real. The will was genuine. Now, more coordinated action was needed.
MOMPATI S. MERAFHE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Botswana, said he believed the Climate Change Convention provided an a appropriate global framework for addressing the challenges of climate change, but what Botswana needed was the political will to mobilize resources to facilitate effective implementation. Several speakers before him had made an appeal for more resources, technology transfer and technical assistance to help developing countries respond to the challenge of climate change. Botswana backed those countries. However, in order to have a more focused and integrated approach at the national level, there had to be institutional coherence at the global level.
Unfortunately, he said, that was not the case. More than 600 multilateral environmental agreements, many with their own governing bodies and secretariats, existed and developing countries had been unable to cope with the extensive reporting and participation requirements of the current multilateral environmental structure. It has depleted expertise and resources for implementation of programme. In that regard, more must be done to advance the reform of global environmental governance, as well as define and consolidate the nexus between development and environment.
MOK MARETH, Senior Minister, Minister of the Environment of Cambodia, pointed out that, as a least developed country, Cambodia was particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change, in particular floods and droughts, which had a serious impact on its economy. For its part, as party to the Climate Change Convention and its Kyoto Protocol, Cambodia had made the utmost efforts to implement the Convention and the Protocol, in such matters as the promotion of clean development mechanism projects, the drafting of national communications to the Convention and preparation of a National Adaptation Programme of Action on Climate Change.
With those initiatives in mind, it needed to be stressed that challenges lay ahead and the main one was the mobilization of resources for implementation of the programme. Existing funds theoretically available for least developed countries, such as the least developed country fund and the Adaptation Fund, were very small compared to the required costs of adaptation for developing countries. Furthermore, no clear guidelines existed, which set up difficulties in accessing these many, but poorly coordinated and fragmented, funding mechanisms. From the ethical point of view, countries should not be held responsible for problems they had not caused and instead should be funded on an unconditional, full-cost basis to adapt to climate change.
FRANCIS D. NHEMA, Minister of Environment and Tourism of Zimbabwe, said both the third and fourth assessment reports of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that Africa would suffer the most from the impact of climate change. Studies conducted in Zimbabwe recently showed evidence of gradual warming. An analysis had recently found that the highest daily maximum temperatures had risen for most of the country by about 2o Celsius per century, while the number of cold days had decreased by a rate of about 15 days every 100 years. With predictions that agricultural productivity could decrease by 30 per cent due to severe droughts, climate change posed one of the most serious food security challenges of the twenty-first century.
He said real action on adaptation was needed from planning and assessment to implementation. Zimbabwe had thrown full support behind the declaration of the President of the Assembly on Climate Change and would like to see concrete decisions coming out of international deliberations, especially on funding for adaptation of developing countries, in areas such as the clean development mechanism, the Special Climate Change Fund, research and systemic observation. Adaptation could no longer be an “add-on” activity within a comprehensive response to climate change. Failure to move it to the forefront would put at risk billions of people in poor, developing countries and communities
MARK J. MWANDOSYA, Minister of the Environment in the Vice-President’s Office of the United Republic of Tanzania, said that, as a developing country, it had contributed the least to climate change, yet was disproportionately impacted by it. Because of that, its efforts to attain the Millennium Goals had been seriously undermined and had weakened its ability to cope. It was a “vicious cycle”.
His Government had prepared a National Action Plan on Adaptation and identified priority areas in need of urgent action, including strengthening of early warning systems and disaster preparedness, improving food and water security in drought-prone areas and shifting shallow water wells affected by flooding in coastal areas. In conclusion, he stressed the need for the international community to support the priorities of the least developed countries and to provide the necessary funds for implementation.
MANOUCHEHR MOTAKI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iran, said climate change was one of the most multifaceted and serious threats the world faced today. As a party to the Climate Change Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, Iran continued to cooperate with the international community in tackling the problem. The United Nations system, the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol remained the most appropriate mechanisms for intergovernmental negotiations to meet the global challenge. Climate change should not be considered in isolation or irrespective of the development pillars of sustainable development. He underscored that the relationship between climate change, economic growth and poverty eradication were well recognized.
He urged attaching great importance to internationally agreed principles, including that of “common but differentiated responsibilities”. Industrialized nations had an historic responsibility for producing greenhouse gas emissions and should spare no efforts in mitigating them. Mitigation and adaptation were two indispensable pillars for any effective response strategy, he stated. Any effective adaptation strategy would require long-term planning, sustainable financing and technology support. He proposed that the Adaptation Fund be expanded and resources scaled up. His Government was ready to participate actively in negotiations during the Conference in Bali.
Thematic Plenary II -- Mitigation
Dedicated to the theme of “Mitigation”, the plenary was facilitated by Gro Harlem Brundtland, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, and its Rapporteur was Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The two Co-Chairs of the morning session were Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile, and Alfred Gusenbauer, Federal Chancellor of Austria.
When the Assembly resumed its work, the Co-Chairs of the afternoon session were Tarja Halonen, President of Finland, and Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, President of Nigeria.
Ms. BRUNDTLAND opened the discussion by emphasizing the need for urgent action on climate change, saying it would require stabilizing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at a safe level, which was defined as the central goal of the Climate Change Convetion. Under the Convention, industrialized countries had committed to return emissions to 1990 levels by 2000, but many had not. Under the Kyoto Protocol, all parties had committed to limit their emissions, and 36 industrialized countries had committed to reduce their emissions in line with agreed targets by 2012. That was far from enough, and more concerted multilateral action was required, involving substantial emissions reductions by industrialized countries and much better incentives for action by other countries.
The Bali Conference would be a critically important step in developing a truly global response to the most pressing global challenge of the day, she said. Future international cooperation on climate change must be based on science and be compatible with long-term investment strategies. In addition, efforts to achieve more robust international cooperation must be equitable. That notion was captured in the Convention by the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”, and industrialized countries must take the lead. Developing countries faced the most impacts and had the least capacity to adapt. Only a global solution could solve the global problem of climate change. That solution must be consistent with the overriding priorities of sustainable development, poverty reduction and the developing countries’ right to grow their economies. Key issues that must be considered included the question of whether the world had a sufficient sense of urgency and was ready to move towards a comprehensive approach to climate change. Each country would make a national strategy, and the second question was how, taken together, those strategies could add up to an integrated, environmentally sound outcome, consistent with sustainable development. It was also necessary to learn from mistakes and successes.
MICHELLE BACHELET, President of Chile, stressing the urgency of the climate change issue, said that, while the Kyoto Protocol was quite recent, almost a decade had elapsed since its negotiation, and 15 years since adoption of the United Nations model convention on climate change. A great deal had to be done with appropriate expediency.
Reminding delegations that they each had five minutes to speak, the Co-Chair underlined the role of civil society groups in contributing to the debate.
STJEPAN MESIĆ, President of Croatia, said the transition to a globally sustainable energy system was the basis of mitigation, and to achieve that target, world leaders must act on global, regional and national levels. Global policy must address both the costs and benefits of mitigation, but that could and must be a common effort. The fulfilment of a promise by one State would depend on the commitment of another. Today’s event should send a clear message that the world was determined about the kinds of commitments needed to create a common mitigation framework.
Although Croatia was one of the minor polluters in its region, he said, it was already committed to long-term economic and social progress, hand in hand with long-term preservation of the environment. Energy efficiency measures, the use of renewable energy sources, change of fuel, the capture and use of methane at disposal sites, the capture of carbon dioxide and its storage in geological formations, afforestation and forest protection would all have a positive effect. What was required was the enhanced use of new, advanced technologies and additional investment in future technology.
The Kyoto Protocol had entered into force this month in Croatia, which was firmly committed to meeting its obligations in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, he said. However, the country was also aware that it was necessary to consider, urgently and resolutely, a future international agreement on climate protection after 2012, which should be based on the need to achieve a substantial reduction in emissions by all signatories of the Climate Change Convention, and to strengthen international cooperation and the transfer of new technologies. It was also necessary to take into account the difference between developed and developing countries in terms of their respective responsibilities.
LECH KACZYŃSKI, President of Poland, attributed the increase in greenhouse gases to developed countries, which burned huge quantities of coal, oil and gas and used deforestation as a means of development. The economies of developed countries should instead stimulate the sustainable development of poor countries by transferring new low- and zero-emission technologies, as well as renewable sources of energy. The Climate Change Convention and Kyoto Protocol could aid that process.
He noted that over the past 17 years, his country’s gross domestic product (GDP) had grown by 60 per cent, while its greenhouse gas emissions had fallen by 32 per cent. A stable environmental policy, new combustion technologies and growing awareness had helped Poland attain its economic and environmental success. The National Afforested Space Growth Programme was an important part of the country’s effort to absorb excess carbon dioxide by restoring man-managed forests to their natural states.
SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO, President of Indonesia, said that a surge of public consciousness had created a bigger window of opportunity to address climate change. The international community must dare to “think outside the box”, recalibrate its perspectives and adopt a fresh approach. Developing countries could do more by creating innovative national strategies that would take into account market, fiscal and regulatory approaches to reducing the cost of mitigation and helping to mobilize investments. Technology was needed, and it was still to be determined how developing countries could obtain it. A closer look at conserving, preserving and expanding forests must be taken, given their role as carbon sinks. The carbon market had to be encouraged to give a better price for each ton of carbon saved.
Besides forestry, an array of mitigation options had to be explored, including increased energy efficiency, nuclear power, biomass energy and other forms of fuel substitution, he said. “We have all the technology to make mitigation work; what we need is the right attitude –- the optimism to give technology a chance to work wonders.” Attention must be drawn to the plight of small island States, which could not simply build sea walls like the Netherlands to protect their citizens against rising sea levels. They had to rely on the international community to avoid disappearing into a watery grave. The Bali Conference would be an opportunity to assure present and future generations that their prospects would not be dimmed by climate change.
RAFAEL CORREA, President of Ecuador, pointed out that, whereas an average United States citizen generated 6 tons of carbon per year and an average European citizen almost 3 tons, the world’s average per capita carbon emissions only approached 1.3 tons per year. Based on the intensive use of fossil fuel and over-consumption, today’s model of growth was untenable, and its benefits reached a privileged minority of modern society, while enormously harming the whole world. At less than 1 per cent of the world total, Ecuador was a marginal country in terms of emissions, but the impact of climate change could have a significant effect on the country. Measures to adapt to climate change represented a heavy burden on the budgets of developing countries and could ascend to $40 billion, according to the World Bank. Those countries did not need loans to adapt -– they needed compensation for the damage caused by the disproportionate amount of historical and current emissions of greenhouse gases by industrialized countries.
He said that among his Government’s efforts to counteract global warming was an initiative not to develop an underground reserve of crude oil located in the highly sensitive ecological zone of Yasuní. As a result, Ecuador would lose about $720 million per year in investments. The country had decided to make that immense sacrifice, but it was demanding co-responsibility and minimum compensation from the international community. The initiative would prevent the emission of around 111 million tons of carbon produced by burning oil. Ecuador was requesting from the international community a “small contribution” of $5 per barrel to conserve biodiversity, protect the indigenous population and prevent carbon dioxide emissions. The total amount that the country was requesting was some $4.6 billion. That proposal also included the establishment of an environmental fund oriented to the fulfilment of the National Development Plan, which aimed at diversifying energy sources and developing capacities and investments in ecotourism.
ŽELJKO KOMŠIĆ, President of Bosnia and Herzegovina, appealed for a constructive approach, saying climate change must be seen from the perspective of sustainable development, future generations and life on planet Earth. Climate change was a serious planetary issue, and studies had shown last year to have been one of the warmest in the last 150 years. Warming trends had affected all continents and oceans, and efforts must be made for the least developed and most vulnerable countries to be heard.
Recalling his country’s efforts to address climate change, he noted that it had ratified the Climate Change Convention in 2000. Its instrument of ratification of the Kyoto Protocol had been submitted to the Secretary-General earlier this year and further steps were being undertaken. While greenhouse gas emissions in Bosnia and Herzegovina were lower than in 1990, ongoing projects relating to energy consumption, forestry and food production were under way. Nations had become increasingly interdependent and faced similar challenges. Sooner or later, Governments had to tackle climate change in cooperation with the rest of the world.
VALDAS ADAMKUS, President of Lithuania, called for an inclusive international system to address climate change, strengthened by the establishment of a United Nations Organization for the Environment based on the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It was necessary for all countries to come to the table in Bali later this year and negotiate, by 2009, a global and comprehensive post-2012 agreement. Lithuania strongly supported the European Union’s commitment to a 20 per cent reduction of greenhouse gases by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. To meet that mandate, the country had developed national sustainable development and energy strategies, including an increase of the share of biofuel in the transportation field of up to 20 per cent by 2025.
He said his country’s Renovation and Modernization Programme for Residential Buildings aimed at reducing the consumption of heat energy and fuel in the housing sector by 30 per cent by 2020. Lithuania would continue to show sufficient political impetus towards the implementation of national strategies. The introduction of education programmes to change consumption patterns, market-based incentives to design and use environmentally friendly technologies and products, and ambitious afforestation and reforestation programmes were paramount. Last year, for instance, Lithuanians had planted 21,000 hectares of new forests. Throughout the past decade, Lithuania had been devoted to expanding its use of indigenous and renewable resources by up to 21 per cent by 2010. The future of environmental agreements and policies required new partnerships among multilateral institutions, Governments, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and financial institutions. The past several years constituted a breakthrough in understanding the dangerous consequences of environmental neglect. To fight climate change, urgent, ambitious, concerted and focused efforts were required of the global community.
BHARRAT JAGDEO, President of Guyana, called for more cooperation between the developed and developing world, noting that his country had surrendered a million acres of forestry for the international community to study sustainable harvesting practices. That contribution was like the United States volunteering the State of Delaware for such a study. Yet Guyana’s effort was not noticed by the world, nor was it compensated financially. The country had had to use money from its Treasury to sustain the concession. In the future the international battle against climate change must be more equitable and more comprehensive for developing countries.
He said global trading policies should not increase impoverishment, and called for coherence between environmental policy, trade and economics. The Kyoto Protocol allotted money to countries that cut down trees and then reforested, a “perverse incentive”, given that the Protocol recognized reforestation, but not countries like Guyana, which had avoided deforestation altogether. Approximately half a million hectares of its forests were under direct conservation through various international and national programmes. Sustainable forest utilization, with stringent political, legislative and institutional oversight, as well as stakeholder support, had allowed Guyana to maintain a forest cover of more than 16 million hectares, or 75 per cent of its land, he said. The country demanded a global agenda that recognized the value of standing forests and adequately compensated and financed incentives against deforestation and other environmental initiatives by poor countries. In promoting efforts to mitigate climate change, there was a need to recognize and make a priority of the special circumstances and vulnerability of the least developed countries and small island developing States.
IVAN GAŠPAROVIČ, President of Slovakia, said: “Man’s control over nature has tied -– and keeps slowly tightening -– the rope around our neck.” People considered climate change a problem, but, unfortunately, they seemed to have “a poor appetite” for adapting their style of living. For three decades, world leaders had been declaring ambitious goals and making decisions to save the planet, yet the international community was still more of an observer than an active player. The reason was that environmental protection required increasingly higher costs. In the global context, Slovakia had a small share in environmental pollution, but it did not wish to be a mere observer. Therefore, it urged that intensive talks commence in Bali with a view to concluding an “all-embracing” agreement on the future climate change regime under the Climate Change Convention. It was particularly important to ensure continuity between the Kyoto Protocol and that new agreement.
After 1990, climate change had not been considered a problem in Slovakia, due to a reduction in emissions caused by a decline in industrial production, he continued. Now, that situation had been replaced by an economic boom. As a European Union member State, Slovakia subscribed to the commitment to cut its emissions by 20 per cent by 2020. The country was also likely to fulfil its commitment under the Kyoto Protocol. Key to meeting its long-term objectives with regard to emissions reduction were measures to adapt the economy to low-emission sources, more extensive energy savings, increased use of clean technologies, and changes in States priorities through tax policy instruments and steps to reduce “the costs for the use of Internet highways to rival normal highways”. With many years of positive experience, Slovakia also planned to increase its use of nuclear energy, which it considered a reliable, economically efficient and environmentally acceptable source of energy.
EVO MORALES AYMA, President of Bolivia, appealed for more sincerity and realism, noting that humankind’s future was being destroyed daily and it was important to pinpoint the enemies. Capitalism was the worst enemy of humanity, and if that system was not changed, today’s meeting would be totally in vain. Capitalism was a germ with a twin called war; it turned life and Earth into merchandise. There was never any concern about the arms race now under way. It was important to change the current economic models of development, particularly in the Western world.
Noting that he came from a culture of peace, he said it was an indigenous belief that Earth was the mother that gave life. How could the Western model turn it into merchandise? The result was unsustainable development and a system that destroyed. Over-consumption must be abandoned. It was not enough to dwell on money; thought must also be given to life. It was important to organize an international movement to address that issue. Responsibility must be assumed in order to save humankind. Life and Earth must be saved.
JOSÉ SÓCRATES, Prime Minister of Portugal, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said climate change had presented humanity with a major challenge. There was now solid scientific evidence that the warming of the climate system was absolutely certain, and that most of the increase in global average temperatures since the mid-twentieth century had very likely been due to human activity. The impacts of climate change would quickly become unmanageable without swift and effective international action, without which the consequences for the global economy would be far worse than the alternatives. The Stern Review, for instance, estimated a 20 per cent reduction of global gross domestic product -- about equal to the two World Wars and the Great Depression -– whereas tackling the problem would amount to only 1 per cent of global gross domestic product.
Scientists and economists had spoken, and now it was time for politicians to act, he stressed. To avoid dangerous climate change impacts, the global mean surface temperature must not exceed 2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Global emissions therefore had to peak in the next 10 to 15 years and be reduced to at least 50 per cent below 1990 levels by mid-century. Such goals were ambitious yet feasible. By the end of 2009, everyone must agree to a global and comprehensive climate change framework for the post-2012 period. In the European Union’s view, there must be unprecedented international cooperation and binding emissions reduction targets for developed countries; emissions from deforestation and international air and sea transport must also be addressed. Emission reductions could be achieved in a cost-effective manner through the global carbon market and the Clean Development Mechanism. Finally, adaptation to climate change must be placed high on the political agenda. The United Nations climate change process was the appropriate forum for negotiating future action; and in that context, the Bali Conference would be a milestone. The European Union expected the international community to launch an ambitious road map for negotiations on a global and comprehensive climate change agreement.
JOSÉ MANUEL BARROSO, President of the European Commission, said the challenge of climate change could be met, but only if the international community acted urgently, on the basis of a shared vision for humankind -– a vision of transformation from a high-carbon present to a low-carbon future. “This in turn means -– and, my friends, there are no easy choices here -– to set binding reduction commitments to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”
The European Union would meet its Kyoto Targets, but now it was necessary to look beyond 2012, he continued. It would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions at least 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. Furthermore, it would be a 30 per cent reduction if there was a fair and effective global agreement for the post-2012 period. Those interim steps were essential if the international community was to reach a 50 per cent reduction in global greenhouse emissions by 2050. That would not be easy, but more must be done to limit the rise in global temperatures to at most 2° Celsius. On the eve of Bali, the European Commission was working on a number of measures to strengthen its emissions trading scheme, increase energy efficiency, make wider use of renewable energy, and attain a low-carbon economy. Those measures had benefits, as well as challenges: a low-carbon economy would be a stimulus to mutual prosperity, not a brake on growth; using energy more efficiently meant saving money; switching to cleaner energy sources improved air quality and health; investing in innovation created industrial know-how and jobs; and investing in renewable energy strengthened security of energy supplies.
Stressing the need for “the right incentives”, he said transformation must be market-based. The global carbon market had, in less than three years of existence, had a total turnover of nearly $30 billion, and right at the heart of that market was the European Union’s greenhouse gas emissions trading system. More than $20 billion had been invested in 2,000 emissions reduction projects, and some €3 billion spent by European Union Governments on clean technology in developing countries. While still in its infancy, the global carbon market and the developing concept of emissions trading showed the possibility of effectively mobilizing new finance for a low-carbon future, including in the United States. “The X factor” needed for the development of such a market involved ambitious leadership. “Our best efforts, our good intentions are necessary, but not sufficient,” he said, urging the Secretary-General to organize a follow-up to today’s meeting, perhaps in the first half of 2009, to help deliver a global climate change agreement by the end of that year.
ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN, Prime Minister of Denmark, said one of the most important challenges was how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time ensuring economic growth. Some argued that it was not possible, but it was possible and indeed necessary. It was possible to pursue economic growth while stabilizing energy consumption and safeguarding the environment. Energy-efficient and renewable resources were key tools. Denmark’s experience had been positive; since 1980, for instance, its economy had grown 70 per cent with almost no change in energy consumption.
Denmark’s experience had shown that energy efficiency had to be implemented at all levels, he said, adding that the country had used a variety of approaches, including technology, economic incentives and energy taxation. The energy needed to produce one unit of gross domestic product (GDP) was 40 per cent lower than in other industrialized countries. There had been a special effort to develop alternative and cleaner sources of energy, and a quarter of Denmark’s energy production now came from renewable sources. Technology was becoming more efficient and competitive; wind-generated energy had, for instance, become a commercial success. Denmark’s experience could stand as an example, and it was to be hoped that agreement would emerge from the Copenhagen Climate Conference in 2009.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOĞAN, Prime Minister of Turkey, said one of the most unfair aspects of climate change was that the countries most adversely affected were the ones bearing the least responsibility for it. Developing countries and least developed countries should benefit more comprehensively from international mechanisms, funds for adaptation and new technologies. Their special circumstances should be borne in mind and they should contribute to international efforts within a fair and flexible framework. Current mechanisms should be developed further and made more accessible. Moreover, it was imperative to develop voluntary and flexible arrangements. Developed countries with a historical responsibility and high emissions levels should realize higher reduction levels in the post-2012 period.
Describing Turkey as an Annex I country whose special circumstances had been recognized at the seventh UNFCCC Conference of the Parties in 2001, he said the country had become a party to the Convention in 2004, but in terms of basic economic indicators, its level of industrialization was not yet at the same level as the large majority of Annex I countries. In 2004, Turkey’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions level had been equivalent to 4.1 tons of carbon dioxide, corresponding to a third of the average level of Annex I and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. To address climate change, Turkey had revised its environmental and energy legislation and was undertaking a series of measures to reduce emissions. They included optimum use of its hydroelectric potential, and the promotion of energy efficiency in cement and iron/steel plants. The country was not yet party to the Kyoto Protocol, but it was considering accession favourably, providing its special circumstances, setting it apart from other Annex I countries, were acknowledged. In March 2009, Turkey would host the World Water Forum in Istanbul.
ALAIN BELDA, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Alcoa, Inc., said the corporation was a founding member of the United States Climate Action Partnership and the Global Roundtable on Climate Change. United States Climate Action Partnership’s goal was to slow, stop and reverse the growth of greenhouse gas emissions over the shortest period of time reasonably achievable. Legislative action and leadership on climate change was urgently needed in the United States. In Brazil, Alcoa had joined the Climate Action Defence Compact, an agreement to work towards limiting and stopping global warming caused by greenhouse gases. A global plan of action on climate change could be built in ways that would create more economic opportunities than risks.
However, no one business or Government could do that alone, he said. Governments everywhere needed to align climate change and energy policies to provide the tools to achieve the emission reductions necessary to limit global emissions, address energy security and meet the challenges of adaptation. The framework should provide flexibility for business and promote investment in development and the application of necessary breakthrough technologies. Also needed, among other things, were measures and incentives to: reduce emissions from land-use change and deforestation; accelerate the deployment of low- and zero-carbon technologies; and encourage innovation and new technologies.
By driving change in its energy use, striving for efficiency, innovation for cleaner processes, greater recycling and new technologies, Alcoa had reduced its direct greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent since 1990, he continued. The company was investing “serious money” in developing new smelting technology that would eliminate all consumable carbon anodes and related carbon dioxide emissions, as well as all petrofluorocarbons (PFC) emissions. That would result in the total elimination of carbon emissions in the production of aluminium. Efforts were being made to decrease reliance on fossil fuels and promote recycling. Using recycled metal saved 95 per cent of the energy needed to manufacture new metal. Solutions also lay in the use of green buildings, more efficient energy transmission, and better packaging and food protection. The entire aluminium industry had the potential to be greenhouse gas neutral by 2020 by increasing the use of aluminium in the transportation sector and using lighter and more fuel-efficient vehicles. “We need courageous, ambitious and aggressive global policies that force the search for solutions, immediate ones and long-term ones,” he said.
FREDRIK REINFELDT, Prime Minister of Sweden, said climate change was one of the major environmental and political challenges of the century. As Sweden’s economy had grown by 36 per cent between 1990 and 2005, its emissions had dropped 7 per cent below 1990 levels in 2005. The country’s success in lowering emissions over the past 15 years was largely attributable to its carbon dioxide tax, introduced in 1991, which had led to a decrease in the use of fossil fuels for heat, and an increase in the incineration of biomass and energy efficiency.
Based primarily on hydroelectric and nuclear power, Swedish electricity production was nearly free from carbon dioxide, he noted, adding that Sweden maintained a “secure and robust” energy portfolio by replacing the use of oil with bioenergy. Since 1970, the country had limited its use of oil by 50 per cent. Decreasing emissions through tax-free biofuels used in the transportation sector was the next challenge. Recently, a rebate for purchasing environmentally friendly cars and a congestion tax had been introduced in Stockholm.
Another initiative was a new climate package, including an increased tax on carbon dioxide and a tax cut for carbon dioxide-neutral fuels. Only by improving existing technologies and setting a price on emissions with legally binding commitments could countries tackle climate change.
RAID FAHMI, Minister for Science and Technology of Iraq, said the need to address climate change had never been more urgent. The Kyoto Protocol had been concluded on the basis of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, which had stressed the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to prevent the negative impacts of climate change. Industrialized countries had committed themselves to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. All countries must take measures to reduce them, and poor ones should get economic credits, as well as help in their efforts. Many in the world were not ready to face up to the possibility of climate disaster, and there was a need for both political will and legislative solutions to address worst-case scenarios, based on the principles that had come out of Rio.
Energy efficiency and climate change were two elements of sustainable development that had been adopted by the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and subsidiary bodies. Industrialized countries had to be pioneers and leaders, and live up to their responsibilities. Iraq encouraged moves towards clean renewable technologies and environmental protection, including technological transfers. The country’s Parliament had been working on new draft legislation that would see Iraq adhering to joint agreements on climate change, and its Council of Ministers had approved a number of projects.
IVAILO KALFIN, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, acknowledged that climate change knew no national borders or levels of development. The European Union had set a good example by committing to cut down at least 20 per cent of emissions by 2020. Tackling climate change now would be much less expensive than the overall adverse impact of unmitigated climate change.
Bulgaria’s Second Action Plan on Climate Change included legal, market and financial instruments, as well as scientific research and voluntary agreements for fulfilment of the country’s obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, he said, adding that participation in the European Union emissions trading scheme was another priority. As Chair of the Central European Initiative and the South-East Europe Cooperation Process, Bulgaria noted that both regions had been affected by all-time high temperatures, droughts, hailstorms, tornados and torrential rain.
SAM KUTESA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uganda, stressed the importance of advocacy and spreading knowledge about the danger the world faced, saying more than 90 per cent of Africa’s population were not aware of the causes of climate change and could not share in the search for solutions. “If we are going to have a world convention that is binding to countries, we need to increase our level of awareness,” he said. As for the contribution of the Ugandan population towards addressing climate change, from the practical point of view the people could be told to plant more trees to capture the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Uganda was innocent as far as pollution was concerned, but people cut trees for firewood, because they had no other source of energy, he said. “Even if we plant more trees, with an increasing population, if we ask a mother in a Ugandan village whether she should cut a tree to make a fire to feed her child or preserve the tree for the atmosphere, she will cut that tree,” he said. That meant that Uganda’s population needed other sources of energy, which should be made available cheaply. “Am I going to be bound by the Bali Convention? How can I? How can I tell that woman not to cut that tree?” he asked. There were developed countries’ commitments on official development assistance (ODA) to the world’s poorest countries. “Have they been paid? Have those goals been achieved?” To address climate change, hard answers and binding commitments were needed.
INGIBJÖRG SÓLRÚN GÍSLADÓTTIR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, said no other forum than the United Nations was likely to provide the necessary universal political mandate to address climate change. At the same time, it was necessary to make use of all available technology and resources to mitigate its effects. Without action now, the costs would only rise, but the cost could also be seen as an opportunity-opening investment. There had to be a tool box of approaches that embraced innovation.
She stressed the need to ensure that the development of biomass energy did not result in higher food prices. The private sector must be a powerful ally of Government in addressing climate change, and nations should strive for a universal system under the United Nations framework. The political agenda could not be allowed to be set by powerful countries acting unilaterally. Although Iceland welcomed initiatives by the G-8, the United States and others, all negotiations must be transparent and open to participation by all nations. Whatever was agreed after 2010 had to be based on the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol principles. It must be flexible enough to include the fast-developing Group of 77 nations as well as the United States and Australia.
GEORGE YEO, Minister for Foreign of Affairs of Singapore, demanded that the political will of world leaders be translated into an effective plan of action at the upcoming meeting in Bali. Prior to that meeting, Singapore would host the East Asia Summit and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN)-European Union summit, both regional meetings where climate change would be high up on the agenda.
The fight against global warming meant both reducing carbon emissions and increasing carbon capture, he said, stressing that the initiative to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation and the promotion of sustainable forest management were especially important. Tropical forests and marine ecosystems contributed substantially to the health of the planet, and particularly important to South-east Asia should be learning more about forests, mangrove swamps and coral reefs. For lack of knowledge, large areas of peatland were drained for cultivation, which led to fires and the production of greenhouse gases.
He expressed his support for the Heart of Borneo, covering 220,000 square kilometres in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. It was home to 13 primate species, 150 reptilians and amphibians and more than 350 species of birds and 15,000 species of plants. To protect the Earth’s resources, the private sector and non-governmental organizations must be involved in climate change mitigation.
Co-Chair ALFRED GUSENBAUER, Federal Chancellor of Austria, summarized the morning debate, saying that speakers had expressed a strong will for urgent action and made many suggestions for workable solutions. Participants had agreed that climate change was a threat to humankind, and the challenge now was to develop a fair and flexible global response. Concerted action was needed from many countries. Cuts in emissions were key, and the global energy base must be redesigned.
Mitigation goals were well known, and it was important now to implement them, he said. As emphasized by some speakers, there was a need for coherence in international policies. It had also been pointed out that it was necessary to redirect trade policies and subordinate their major elements to mitigation goals. It had also been suggested that the outcome of negotiations should be consistent with sustainable development and poverty alleviation goals. The Bali Conference would be the litmus test for world commitment.
ANGELA MERKEL, Chancellor of Germany, said climate protection was not only an environmental need, but also a matter of economic reason. By mid-century, at least half the world’s greenhouse gas emissions must be cut, and Europe was making important contributions in that regard. Some people doubted that it was possible to achieve that goal while also pursuing sustainable development, but it could be done and industrialized countries must play a leadership role. It was a moral and economic imperative. Under Germany’s Presidency, the European Union had adopted an integrated climate change strategy. Having undertaken to cut its emissions by 20 per cent by 2020, Europe would be prepared to reduce them by as much as 30 per cent if other industrialized countries followed its example.
A new climate change agreement must promote cooperation to stabilize emissions, promote alternative energy sources, develop and use new technologies, and promote technology transfers, she said, adding that the new instrument should be developed under the auspices of the United Nations. It was not enough to develop new technologies; it was also important to create demand for them. The post-2012 agreement -– negotiations on which should be concluded by 2009 -- should become a bridge for sustainable development in all regions.
JENS STOLTENBERG, Prime Minister of Norway, said “we might lose control” if the atmospheric temperature increased more than 2o Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. Norway called for a solution developed within the Climate Change Convention that included the United States, developed countries and emerging economies. It would be necessary to provide incentives for reforestation and adaptation, and to make it equitable for developing countries to participate in mitigation and adaptation efforts. The new regime would also include international aviation –- now the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases -- and shipping.
Together with the European Environmental Agency (EEA), Norway would hold a workshop in Oslo in the near future to discuss mitigation strategies including the aviation and shipping industries, he said. Norway recommended establishing a global carbon price and a market for carbon trading. The Clean Development Mechanism could possibly be expanded to include whole sectors of the economy. The Norwegian Government, in cooperation with the private sector, had developed an ambitious carbon capture and storage programme. By the middle of the next decade, Norway aimed to operate a full-scale carbon capture and storage plant fitted to a large-scale power plant.
MICHAEL T. SOMARE, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, emphasized that the voices small island developing States must be heard when constructing a shared objective toward combating climate change. Emission cuts should be deep and fast, limiting temperature rise to about 1.5o Celsius and atmospheric carbon concentrations to 400 parts per million. Developed nations were most responsible for meeting mitigation and adaptation challenges, and establishing deeper emissions targets in rich countries would create positive incentives for poor ones to sustain economic growth and development, and reduce poverty. A greater international commitment to technology and related investments in developing countries would help support their transition to clean economies.
“If we lose the world’s forests we lose the fight against climate change,” he said, adding that it was easier and more cost-effective to act sooner, rather than later. In addition, Papua New Guinea was against taxing developing countries to fund adaptation, which would be unethical. After all, developed countries were the main polluters and should be the ones to pay. Only by expanding and strengthening carbon emissions markets could finance systems be achieved to develop positive incentives toward reducing emissions and mechanisms for adaptation in developing countries.
MOURAD MEDELCI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Algeria, said Africa had been “a bit forgotten” in the dialogue over climate change, even though it was the continent that had been suffering the most and emitted the least greenhouse gases. The current session was appropriate for giving consideration to permanent climatic threats weighing on Africa, such as melting snows and glaciers on Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, and their disastrous effects on water resources.
Noting that his country had been the first to welcome more than 50,000 climatic refugees from the Sahel, he said they had been confronted by a humanitarian, social and health situation without precedent. Having signed the Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol, Algeria was committed to honour its obligations by putting in place a national strategy that included the creation of a national climate change agency. Facing up to climate change was a duty and a decisive task for the sustainable development of the African continent.
SAHANA PRADHAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, said she was concerned that the Himalayan glaciers were receding fast, causing glacial lake outburst floods, extreme rainfall, massive landslides and recurring floods. It was ironic that the least developed States, which were least responsible for climate change, were the worst affected. Resources and technology for capacity building for mitigation and adaptation should be given to poor countries without diverting the funds needed for their development.
She called for bolder commitments to combating climate change and an international agreement to extend the reduction targets beyond 2012. In addition, Nepal recommended strengthening the carbon trading regime and a global consensus on a cleaner, more efficient and renewable energy regime, while recognizing the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” among countries. Nepal had started to incorporate environmental sustainability into its development plans and projects. For example, its community forestry programme promoted the sustainable and productive management of forest resources and greener growth. The developing world was ready to take on its share of the problem, if supported technically and with adequate resources.
ALEXANDER DOWNER, Minister for Foreign of Affairs of Australia, said his country had recently been involved in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, where leaders had agreed to work towards a comprehensive post-2012 agreement. Ideally, the agreement would encompass a comprehensive, global effort to fight climate change; respect diverse domestic circumstances and capacities; be flexible; cooperate on low- and zero-emission energy sources and technologies; address forest and land use; promote open trade and investment; and support effective adaptation strategies.
Regionally, APEC leaders would agree to work towards reducing energy intensity by at least 25 per cent by 2030 and increasing forest cover in the region by at least 20 million hectares by 2020, he said. Nationally, Australia had pledged $200 million to help developing countries avoid deforestation and promote reforestation. The Australian Government had also agreed to implement a cap-and-trade emissions trading system by 2011. To do that, the country had invested heavily in carbon capture and storage technologies. A new national Clean Energy Target, requiring that 30,000 gigawatt hours each year -- or 15 per cent of the country’s electricity consumption -- come from low-emission sources by 2020, would also be introduced.
GEORGE ANDRE WELLS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Vanuatu, said the most effective way to address the global challenges of climate change was to continue crafting urgent, practical and ambitious action-oriented packages within the existing framework of the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol, which were designed to protect the most vulnerable countries. Any package of mitigation activities must ensure that long-term temperature increases remained well below 2o Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Deep and rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by all major emitters must be ensured within the next 10-15 years, and aggressive action by the largest historical emitters was paramount in order to facilitate the reduction of global emissions. Major-emitting developing countries must also address their emissions with the assistance of developed countries. Future mitigation strategies should be shaped by renewable energy and efficiency policies and measures. Expanding access to renewable energy and efficient technologies should be the key strategy for engaging developing countries in mitigation efforts so as to facilitate long-term sustainable development.
Many small island developing States were hoping that today’s meeting would again recognize that they were the most severely affected victims of climate change, he said. Vanuatu was already experiencing the negative effects of climate change. The sea-level increase of 50 cm over the next 100 years was well within predictions by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; a total of 124 tropical cyclones had affected Vanuatu since 1939, 45 of them categorized as having hurricane force winds. There were indications that there may be more frequent El Niño-type conditions associated with prolonged dry seasons. Climate change was likely to impact on all sectors pertinent to Vanuatu’s sustainable development. As a least developed country, the island nation would be severely constrained financially and in terms of institutional and human capacity. Unlike terrorism, climate change had a universal target -– it worked against all development initiatives and efforts. To address that problem, there must be commitment and precise action, and Vanuatu joined others in calling for the full implementation of the Climate Change Convention and its Kyoto Protocol. Defending the economics of gas emissions could not be a just cause if millions of lives were threatened. While the United Nations was doing its part, all responsible countries were urged to do theirs.
GABOR FODOR, Minister for Environment and Water of Hungary, said droughts and extreme flooding had led to a thorough climate change vulnerability study conducted by Hungary’s scientists, with a view to establishing various adaptation options. Hungary was contributing to global climate change and shouldering its responsibility toward mitigation.
He suggested keeping in mind the following four recommendations while moving forward the international discussion on climate change: all countries, rich and poor should find appropriate ways to tackle increased emissions; fighting climate change required a high level of system-wide coherence among international bodies; those options already proven to be efficient should be seen as the most practical way of dealing with the dramatic and irreversible consequences of global warming; and a higher level of public awareness must be established through “green” leadership and the introduction of “climate-friendly” practices.
MARINA SILVA, Minister for the Environment of Brazil, said the Secretary-General’s decision to promote a high-level discussion on climate change sent a clear message in favour of strengthening multilateralism. Brazil was very concerned that responses to the impact of climate change had been slow-moving, especially in those countries most responsible for the problem. The latest reports from the IPCC had confirmed troubling scenarios, particularly for the most vulnerable countries, and it was disquieting to see that emissions of greenhouse gases had increased in developed countries with stable economies.
Developing countries faced several difficulties that had to be overcome, she said, adding that past mistakes should not be perpetuated. In the past, Brazil had chosen clean energy development based on hydro-electricity and renewable biomass. Its greatest challenge was controlling deforestation and enhancing the value of standing forests to avert pressure from expanding farming activities. The country had launched a national plan in 2003 to combat deforestation in the Amazon of which protected areas and indigenous reserves made up about 30 per cent. An impressive amount of investment and positive incentives were needed to ensure appropriate action. Several developing countries lacked the funds to change the use of their natural resources. There was no more time for rhetoric; to act now was a question of responsibility, commitment, vision and ethics. Developing countries were prepared to face that challenge. The 21st century was an opportunity to correct past mistakes and change the way people lived.
MARTHINUS VAN SCHALKWYK, Minister for Environmental Affairs of South Africa, said the costs of inaction far outweighed those of action, and early action cost less. A road map for negotiations for the next two years must be developed in Bali, and achieving political consensus by 2009 would require balance and equity. “A core balance between sustainable development and climate imperatives, and between historical responsibility for the problem and taking responsibility for the future will have to be the basis of any agreement,” he said, noting the particular vulnerability of women and children. Including gender and youth in climate policy, decision-making and implementation was a cross-cutting priority.
He said a strengthened climate-change regime should focus on adaptation; mitigation; the unintended consequences of response measures; technology development, diffusion and commercialization; and financing and investment. Three mitigation issues must be woven into a multilateral framework: more ambitious, quantified emission reduction targets for all developed countries; re-engagement of the United States and Australia in the multilateral process and in binding reduction targets; and incentives for greater mitigation action by developing countries. Global leadership from developed countries would be necessary and carbon markets would play a key role. Developing countries would have to increase their Clean Development Mechanism projects and their sustainable development policies and measures. Balancing climate stabilization and sustainable development would be in the hands of the developed countries -– full participation of the United States would be a prerequisite in strengthening the regime -– but the developing world would have to make substantive offers to address development and distribution issues.
MEENA RAMAN, Friends of the Earth International, noted that many speakers had underscored the need to keep global temperatures down, which implied long-term efforts to reduce greenhouse gad emissions. Science also suggested that greenhouse gases must be halved by 2050, but it had been also pointed out that in the post-2012 regime, the devil would really be in the details. What would happen would be an agreement on burden-sharing principles between the North and the South. The deeper industrialized countries cut emissions, the less the burden on developing countries. Historical responsibility and capacity to act were among the necessities. A sustainable pathway for developing countries should also envision efforts to improve the standards of living and alleviate poverty. New policies were needed for agriculture and industry.
Emphasizing the need for coherence at both the national and international levels, she said there should also be coherence between the World Trade Organisation, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank policies, and the Millennium Development Goals, the climate change regime and sustainable development. Coherence was also needed in the policies of the developed countries, which instead pursued sustainable development goals through financial institutions and trade negotiations. So-called free trade policies enhanced inequality and vulnerabilities. To undertake mitigation, developing countries required changes in the way technology transfer was handled. Barriers to the deployment of clean technologies must be removed, and lifestyle changes were also needed. Civil society had very high hopes for the Bali negotiations.
JOHN GORMLEY, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government of Ireland, said the science was now incontrovertible and business as usual was not an option. They would have 10 years to stabilize greenhouse emissions, ensure that the planet remained habitable for human beings and to act decisively. “We have squandered precious time. Surely, the unfulfilled promise of Rio will strengthen our resolve and determination to ensure that Bali is a success and a turning point.” By deciding to reduce its emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 and committing to increase that target up to 30 per cent in the context of a comprehensive post-Kyoto agreement, the European Union had provided a clear focus for the discussions in Bali. Its proposal was ambitious for a very good reason -– it reflected what was a necessary next step in an effective global response to climate change.
He said his party’s decision to enter the Government as a coalition partner for the very first time had been motivated by the need to bring climate change considerations to bear on all aspects of policy, and to accelerate efforts to de-carbonize society. The Government’s increased determination on mitigation was now expressed in a commitment to an annual target of reducing national greenhouse gas emissions by 3 per cent a year up to 2012. However, the scope of mitigation did not stop there. In line with the European Union objective of limiting the increase in average global temperatures to no more than 2o Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the country was prepared to make further reductions, without compromising its economic or social development. Ireland was determined to protect its temperate climate in the interests of present and future generations, but it could not do that alone. A true global response -– rooted in social justice and equality -– demanded strong political leadership from all countries, particularly the major emitters of the developed world. As mitigation and adaptation were two sides of the same coin, the international community should better address the needs of developing countries, especially the small island developing States and least developed countries.
REINALDO GARGANO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, said the importance of climate change could not be debated. Ten years had passed since Uruguay had signed the Kyoto Protocol, but international negotiations and agreements had failed to deal with the problem. All countries, especially those with the greatest responsibility, must shoulder their commitments within the United Nations process in order to deal with increasingly pressing climate questions.
Tsunamis, floods, very cold winters and strong downpours were evidence of persisting climate change, he said. In Uruguay, it was now spring, and there had been very high temperatures, unheard of in the region. Uruguay had tackled the climate question very early on and wanted to comply with its commitments. An agricultural country, climate was a major factor in its sustainable development. The worst effects of climate change could be averted if measures were taken now. Any delay would be more expensive. If there was any resistance to signing Kyoto, it was because people did not wish to lose economic hegemony. Not only was that a mistaken, but it did not take into account the fact that developing countries would be the ones to overtake the masters of today.
JUAN RAFAEL ELVIRA QUESADA ( Mexico) said his country was aware of its responsibility and capacity, and had already begun to intensify its mitigation policies, following the guidelines outlined in its recently-presented national strategy. The inaction of other countries would not be an excuse for Mexico not fulfilling its part. The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities should encourage all countries to make their best effort, and should not be used as a rationale for the lack of commitment. “Let us also go beyond the framework already established for the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol,” he said, noting that although effective, it only allowed for geographic reallocation of efforts by some developed countries. “We need to increase the global scale of mitigation, by means of measurable and verifiable national efforts set through the multilateral instances we agree on, and as long as they are consistent with our own development needs.”
He said his country was ready to negotiate, in the framework of the Climate Change Convention and its subsidiary instruments, a new climate change regime, balanced and fair, with no exclusions. All developed countries, with no exception, should assume their leadership obligation in the technological and financial fields. The success of any new institutional arrangement would depend on that. Emerging developing countries like Mexico must increase their participation in mitigation efforts. Elements that could constitute that new regime included sectoral approaches, the creation of a fund with clear and inclusive contribution formulas, and new mechanisms of international cooperation that would provide positive incentives to complement -– and not substitute –- national efforts by developing countries. Those incentives should be proportional to the efforts undertaken by beneficiary countries, and those that did more should receive increased support.
ALEKSANDR BEDRITSKY, Head of the Federal Agency for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring of the Russian Federation, called the Kyoto Protocol “imperfect”. The United Nations needed to use the experience gained from the implementation of the current Convention and Kyoto mechanisms to develop a broader and more comprehensive view on the integration of international efforts to address climate change. Commitments to combat global warming should be long-term and designed beyond 2012. Developed countries should make realistic estimations concerning the potential of their economic sectors to stabilize and reduce emissions.
To promote voluntary initiatives, a system of recognition for such actions must be developed, he said, adding that it would be useful to have developed countries commit concrete assistance to developing countries, including through the transfer of technology. International agreements on climate change should be transparent and non-bureaucratic. Adaptation in the field of threat and risk reduction was important to sustainable development and to the future order of joint actions beyond 2012.
MORITZ LEUENBERGER, Federal Chancellor of Switzerland, stressed the need for individual countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on their own and to agree to a global tax on carbon dioxide emissions. Decreasing dependence on fossil fuels meant becoming less dependent on limited sources of energy and less vulnerable to international crises. Investing in new technologies and industries was a way to help both the environment and the economy. For instance, renovated real estate assets and renewed vehicle fleets would create employment.
He said Kyoto targets must be met and redoubled, and called international policies to fight climate change “inadequate”. A global carbon tax would reduce dependence on fossil fuels; promote clean technologies; provide incentives for industry to save money; generate funds for countries to protect themselves against global warming; and establish a balance between polluters and those who suffered most from pollution. For the future, “global climate change regime” should set a common objective, support sustainable development, and contain incentives to invest in new technologies and renewable energy sources.
HENRI DJOMBO, Minister for Forestry Economy and Environment of Congo, said Africa remained the continent most vulnerable to climate change. All humanity must act now to safeguard life on Earth, employing robust and tangible actions. To stabilize the climate, the principle of shared but differentiated responsibility must be applied. International agreements must be respected, including the Kyoto Protocol. Developing nations enduring the effects of global warming had been awaiting real solidarity from the international community, including technical and financial support for initiatives that would preserve biological diversity, better management of natural resources, the fight against poverty and ensure sustainable development.
He said noteworthy efforts towards the sustainable management of forest ecosystems in the Congo Basin resulted from a common political will among Central African nations. They had committed themselves to national and subregional priority actions, and hopes driving that initiative had recently led to the idea of an exchange of information regarding the world’s three major tropical forest regions -– the Congo Basin, the Amazon and Borneo -– with a view to promoting best practices in forestry and commercial activity. Conservation and the sustainable management of those three carbon sinks would represent a major contribution towards restoring a global equilibrium for the environment.
ANDREI DAPKIUNAS, ( Belarus) asked for concrete, differentiated and feasible commitments on climate change, rather than mere declarations of intent. Countries with economies in transition, including Belarus, had been experiencing high growth rates, but needed freer access to advanced nature-conservation technologies based on renewable energy resources.
The United Nations should render to Member States the appropriate large-scale and long-term assistance to facilitate such access, he said. One form of assistance could be the establishment, under the aegis of the United Nations, of an additional international financing mechanism to provide help to developing and transition countries in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Regional cooperation was an essential element in addressing climate change.
ABDULAZIZ KAMILOV ( Uzbekistan) said his country was preparing its second national report on climate change, which would include an inventory of greenhouse gas, the development of climate change scenarios for the coming decades, research of key vulnerabilities, and the identification of necessary measures, as well as the development of a national strategy on adapting to climate change. The reason for the country’s relatively high emission rates was the high energy-intensiveness of Uzbekistan’s economy. However, as a result of recent structural reforms in key sectors of the economy, per capita emissions in the country had decreased by 14 per cent from 1990 to 2005. While improving the efficiency of energy consumption, Uzbekistan had also implemented an energy saving programme and, since 2006, it had begun implementing the Clean Development Mechanism.
Among the measures undertaken by the country, he listed projects in the areas of energy production, oil, gas and waste management, which received support from the World Bank Carbon Fund. A project to reduce emissions of nitrogen monoxide at chemical plants was also being carried out, in cooperation with a Japanese company. At the end of October, a portfolio of more than 50 proposals in the key sectors of economy would be presented at the national Clean Development Forum. To reduce the impact of climate change, the country intended to orient its development programmes towards the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions; intensify the use of renewable sources of energy; reform the housing and community sectors to emphasize efficiency in energy and fuel consumption; optimize the management of water resources; introduce water-saving technologies in agriculture; develop methods of remote monitoring of crop conditions, as well as drought-resistant and salt-tolerant cultures; and strengthen control of the spread of infectious diseases.
MOHAMMED BANAISSA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Morocco, recalled that during the seventh conference on climate change, hosted by his country in 2001, his Government had emphasized that the threat posed by climate change knew no frontiers or difference between the North and the South. Protecting the environment was an issue of collective concern that created solidarity among all and climate change must be addressed on the basis of shared but differentiated responsibility. It was necessary to reaffirm the destructive nature of climate change, particularly in Africa, which was affected by loss of biodiversity, drought, desertification and floods. Concerted multilateral action was needed, with developed countries contributing to the development of developing-country capacities. The international community had a historical responsibility to establish a global strategy to mitigate the effects of climate change, which could only be developed with cooperation between the scientific and economic communities, and with civil society.
Morocco had not escaped the effects of climate change, which manifested themselves in the rise of temperatures and reduced precipitation, he continued. The Bali Conference would be a unique opportunity to address climate change. Only together, with the will of all concerned countries, would that conference be able to accomplish its objectives. The willingness of the biggest partners to start negotiations with determination allowed Morocco to look forward to that event with optimism. It hoped to see a new treaty that would manage, in the framework of the Climate Change Convention, mitigation, adaptation, deforestation, the mobilization of resources, capacity building and the transfer of technology.
SHEIKH ABDULLAH BIN ZAYED AL NAHYAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, said his country’s national environment strategy and plan of action ensured the integration of the environmental dimension into all aspects of development. The United Arab Emirates sponsored and supported international activities in the environment and sustainable development fields, and its initiatives included the so-called Masdar Programme, intended to assist in guiding and diversifying the economy and maintaining stability in the international markets. The Programme envisioned the establishment of a Masdar Area -– a completely green assembly of commercial businesses, research and industry institutions, seeking to achieve zero carbon and environment disposals. The United Arab Emirates had also undertaken effective measures in the areas of renewable energy, air pollution, desertification, emission reduction and clean energy production.
Recalling that his country had hosted the World Summit on Sustainable Energy Resources in arid regions last February, he said it was preparing to hold the first World Summit on Energy for the Future in January. It was important to reinforce global partnership in dealing with climate change, and developed countries should play a more effective role by committing to the implementation of the outcomes and recommendations of relevant treaties and international conferences. There was need for caution in looking at endeavours aiming to enforce high ratios of emission reduction after Kyoto’s first commitment period, as they would have serious effects on the economies of oil-producing and exporting countries. It was necessary to provide financing for developing countries and facilitate their access to new technologies to strengthen their adaptation and mitigation capacities.
PIETRO PAROLIN, Undersecretary for Relations with States at the Holy See, stressed the underlying moral imperative that all, without exception, had a grave responsibility to protect the environment. The best scientific assessments available had linked human activity and climate change. However, the results of those assessments, and remaining uncertainties, should neither be exaggerated nor minimized in the name of politics, ideology or self-interest. Rather, they should be closely studied so as to provide a sound basis for raising awareness and making effective policy decisions.
It was fundamentally reckless to exploit the world to the full, with little or no heed to the consequences, using a world view supposedly based on faith, he said. At the other extreme, human beings and their needs would be put at the service of an inhuman ecology if population and activity were controlled by various drastic means. A coordinated, effective and international political strategy, capable of responding to complex questions, was needed. The economic aspect must be seriously taken into account, considering the vulnerability of poor nations and some sectors of society. Education was needed, especially among the young, to change inbred selfish attitudes towards consumption and the exploitation of natural resources.
Thematic Plenary III -- Technology
Ricardo Lagos Escobar, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Climate Change, served as Facilitator, and Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, served as Rapporteur of a day-long panel entitled, “Innovating a climate-friendly world -- the role of technology and its dissemination”. Co-chairing the morning meeting were Janez Janša, Prime Minister of Slovenia and Jose Ramos-Horta, President of Timor-Leste. Surayud Chulanont, Prime Minister of Thailand, and Prince Albert II of Monaco would co-chair the afternoon panel.
Opening the session, Mr. JANŠA said that technology development and innovation were critical to mitigating climate change. The participation of a large number of Heads of State and Government during today’s meeting was proof of the commitment of world leaders to collectively curb climate change, and it boded well for a successful outcome. Developing countries needed better access to mitigation and adaptation technology to address climate change. The world must scale up research and development investment in clean technologies and expedite deployment of existing technologies. Technologies must be commercially available at a faster rate to meet climate change’s challenges, and resources must be pooled to speed up technology transfer and diffusion.
Mr. ESCOBAR said that most of the technologies essential for combating climate change were already available. The problem concerned the dissemination of those technologies. Major research work was being carried out, but both the public and the private sector needed to do a great deal more. Undeniably, the cost for new technologies was a problem, with which many developing countries were coping. Increasingly, there must be transfer among them.
The session should look at the following questions, among others: what mechanisms were at hand to speed up technological adaptations for combating climate change; what role trade should play in reduction of emissions; the role of the private sector; how private investment flows could be increased; how bilateral and multilateral agreements could be developed for trade cooperation, in order to create incentives for ecologically friendly technologies; and how climate change could be introduced in the ongoing infrastructure development.
ELIAS ANTONIO SACA GONZALEZ, President of El Salvador, stressed the importance of multilateral negotiations under United Nations auspices to find common solutions to problems caused by climate change. Innovative technology must play a role in mitigating climate change. The world had the ability to alleviate the problem, but it must also have the political will to carry out vital programmes and strategies in adaptation, mitigation, technology and financing. He appealed to developed countries in particular to reach consensus on a new global agreement for climate change that aimed to achieve economic development, social advancement and environmental protection. The world must radically change consumption and production patterns, and reduce dependence on carbon fuel. Many countries had legally binding commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to levels recommended in the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. El Salvador had made enormous effort to reduce emissions through public energy efficiency policies and partnerships with academia, the private sector and civil society. It focused on energy diversification through programmes that promoted hydropower fuel, wind energy and biofuel.
TOOMAS HENDRIK ILVES, President of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the post-2012 global and comprehensive climate agreement should extensively promote technology innovation, a global low-carbon economy and energy efficiency. An enlarged carbon market would provide much of the “pull” to utilize existing technology. Also critical was public policy supporting research and development, as well as strict regulations and energy efficiency standards for products and processes. The Union was fully committed to expanding its strategic partnerships and bilateral arrangements with third countries - particularly concerning energy efficiency, renewable energy and emerging technologies, such as carbon capture and environmentally safe sequestration - to complement the United Nations climate change framework. Private-sector investment in carbon markets should complement national and international policy, coupled with global investment in research and development, and technology transfer to developing countries.
TARJA HALONEN, President of Finland, said that sustainable development on a global scale could become a reality if good care was taken of people and there was environmental awareness. There were positive signs of changing attitudes and of a common will to act on climate change. All countries had a right to develop and to aim for growth and prosperity. At the same time, Member States needed to recognize their joint responsibility in responding to global challenges. The United Nations and its organizations were the central forum for multilateral efforts. Industrialized countries must continue to take all possible steps to promote access to environmentally sound technologies for all countries. “We need to show solidarity towards developing countries that address climate change and, at the same time, strive to achieve other development goals such as poverty reduction,” she added. Ecological sustainability and social justice played a prominent role in Finland’s domestic and international policies. Finland had invested in climate and energy technology, particularly in combined heat and power production, bioenergy and wind power technology. One third of Finland’s exports consisted of environmentally friendly technologies.
PAUL BIYA, President of Cameroon, said that climate change was one of mankind’s greatest problems. Its adverse effects on human health, biodiversity and water resources had already been proven. Although Africa was not a great emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, it greatly suffered the impact of the global increase of emissions, as evidenced by the rise in temperature, shrinking water resources and decline in agricultural production sweeping the continent and exacerbating poverty there. Lake Chad had already shrunk 90 per cent. Inadequate rainfall and mass-scale desertification had devastated Cameroon. The country’s “Green Sahel” operation aimed to combat desertification, as did a national forestry development plan. Cameroon’s measures were consistent with the principles and aims of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. Cameroon had ratified both instruments and supported technology transfer among countries, particularly developed to developing countries.
JOÃO BERNARDO VIEIRA, President of Guinea-Bissau, said that today’s high-level meeting was an excellent opportunity for discussion leading to clearer understanding of the environmental challenges facing the world. It was necessary to take practical and innovative measures to correct current imbalances. It was also necessary to promote dialogue and cooperation at the global level. In today’s complex and competitive world, countries would continue to search ways to create wealth and improve opportunities, but prosperity and human happiness should not be limited to merely acquiring goods, or be achieved at the expense of the weakest and poorest who could not protect themselves from climate change. There was a need to substantially reduce greenhouse gases and to urgently deal with the issue of toxic waste. South-South cooperation should also be promoted.
Noting that some small island developing States faced the risk of disappearing because of global warming and rising sea level, he wondered whether those countries that contributed to that situation could continue to observe it without reacting. The role of technology in combating climate change was fundamental. Climate change deserved to be one of the priorities of the United Nations, and the present high-level meeting would be a very important step in terms of the international community’s actions. Now was the time to act, particularly with regard to mobilizing the financial resources needed to reduce and eliminate the environmental dangers facing the world.
STEPHEN HARPER, Prime Minister of Canada, said that there was a growing consensus for a new international framework that would be “effective and flexible”, yet commit “all the world’s major emitters to real targets and concrete action against global greenhouse gas emission”. He highlighted Canada’s strategy for carbon capture and storage, calling it one of the “most exciting” strategies the country had developed to create cleaner energy. Canada had established a carbon capture and storage task force and was exploring ways to expand that technology nationwide. While the country was also investing in renewable energy sources, developing technology for clean energy was not the sole responsibility of Governments and taxpayers; the marketplace should also take up the challenge. The Government’s role was to design tax and regulatory systems that would allow the free market to work.
He said that the core principle of Canada’s approach to climate change was balance. Canada was balancing environmental protection with economic growth, and public and private sector involvement in clean energy technology development. Globally, it was prompting a balanced approach to emissions reduction that engaged the major emitters while respecting the unique characteristics of their economies.
CARLOS LOPEZ, Minister of the Environment of Paraguay, said climate change was no longer an uncertain threat. It was undoubtedly a reality, as spelled out in the February report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The most destructive forest fires in Paraguay’s history had caused acute drought, destroying hundreds of thousands of crops and native forests, and economic losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The ecological losses were incalculable. One of the worst epidemics of Dengue fever had claimed dozens of lives. Climate change was a threat to public health and national development. Latin America was greatly dependent on its valuable natural resources to achieve economic growth. Such resources could not be viewed merely as free property with no value. He called for more environmentally friendly policies and technology transfer to developing countries. Developed nations must firmly support technology transfer. That was the only way to achieve Millennium Development Goal number 8 governing global development. This year was crucial as global leaders worked on a new climate change regime for the post-2012 era.
LULZIM BASHA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Albania, aligning himself with the statement made on behalf of the European Union, said that, while climate change affected all humankind, poor and developing countries would be its first and biggest victims because they were less prepared to adapt financially and technologically. Although Albania currently had low levels of carbon emissions because 95 per cent of its electricity came from hydro sources, future emissions scenarios indicated that those emissions would rise unless reduction measures were put in place now. In addition, climate change was already affecting the country, bringing increased temperatures, rising sea levels and less precipitation. That, in turn, might reduce the country’s ability to produce hydroelectricity and undermine Albania’s efforts to eradicate poverty, meet the Millennium Development Goals and grow the economy.
Citing those prospects, he said that risks associated with climate change must be considered in development plans for Albania. Part of that effort should include transferring eco-friendly technologies and investments into Albania. Current local efforts for sustainable development, such as recycling, must be joined by broader initiatives based on innovative technologies and investment in renewable energy development. Technology transfers coupled with higher investment would both allow Albania to increase its ability to deliver clean development mechanism projects, under the Kyoto Protocol, like the recently signed Emission Reduction Purchase Agreement between Albania and the World Bank, and raise the likelihood of higher investment. By increasing its ability for clean energy product, Albania could develop market advantages in delivering clean development mechanism projects.
NURLAN ISKAKOV, Minister of Environmental Protection of Kazakhstan, said that sustainable development was the key to solving the problems of climate change and, quoting Kazakhstan’s president Nursultan Nazarbayev from the Johannesburg Summit, said, “Sustainable development is not a mere verbiage but a formula of human survival”. Kazakhstan had made sustainable development an official State policy priority and had begun establishing transboundary zones, the first of which would focus on the Ili river basin. It was being created in cooperation with China and Kyrgyzstan. Other efforts to make sustainable development principles State policy included the adoption of an ecological code that harmonized national environmental legislation with international best practice, increasing the amount of alternative energy consumed in Kazakhstan, and creating a presidential programme of the top 30 business leaders to encourage energy efficiency in the corporate world. In addition, he stressed Kazakhstan’s involvement in environmental processes in both Europe and Asia and suggested that this dual participation would create more coordination between the two continents. He proposed that Kazakhstan would be honoured to host the next world summit on sustainable development. He also proposed that the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea become an organization under the United Nations aegis.
ALI IBRAHIM AL-NAIMI, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources of Saudi Arabia, said that his country looked forward to beginning negotiations for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol starting in 2008, anticipating a successful agreement that would take into account the interests of all parties, in particular those of developing countries. Saudi Arabia was concerned about the selective nature of policies and measures adopted by some industrialized countries to address climate change. Some countries were adding to already existing taxes on petroleum products, while at the same time, continuing to provide direct and indirect subsidies to both coal and nuclear power industries, which were more polluting to the climate and the global environment. In addition, there were market interventions aimed at influencing the relative cost of energy sources, which lead to market distortions. All those measures, undoubtedly, would have negative impacts on world oil demand over the coming decades.
He said that the call to move away from fossil fuel consumption as a way to address climate change was not a viable or practical alternative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in light of the availability of carbon capture and storage, as well as highly efficient technologies, which would allow the international community to continue using fossil fuels in a cleaner way. Saudi Arabia encouraged the wide use of technological solutions, rather than seeking to dispense fossil fuels or imported oil in a world of global interdependence.
PATRICK VAHOE JR., Minister of Communication, Aviation and Meteorology of the Solomon Islands, said that the fragile ecosystems of small island developing States and the least developed countries made them the least equipped to deal with the effects of climate change, yet, they were at the “receiving end” in terms of lives lost, and economic and social damage due to the impact of disasters. Climate change and its consequent sea level rise were causing serious and irreparable damage to the ecosystem of the Solomon Islands, its food production and the livelihood of its most vulnerable communities. In 2002, a tropical cyclone with hurricane force winds of over 300 kilometres per hour -- the strongest ever recorded in the Pacific South-West region, had affected food security and the water supply system, and caused havoc on properties and infrastructure. Some of the effects continued to be felt today. So long as real actions were not taken to address climate change challenges, such events would continue to be in the forefront of threats to his people’s very existence and that of future generations. The Solomon Islands, therefore, called for the transfer of appropriate technology for adaptation and mitigation in small island developing States and least developed countries, and the financial, technical and human resources to implement those transfers.
TREVOR MALLARD, Minister of Economic Development of New Zealand, said a broad, multifaceted approach was necessary to address climate change; technology alone was not enough. Lifestyle changes and better urban design were also essential. The world should focus on developing and deploying two or three core technologies with the greatest capacity to reduce emissions cost-effectively. Several options deserved particular attention: carbon capture and storage, battery technology, electric vehicles and renewable energy such as marine, advanced biofuels and wind power. Some of them already existed and had been commercialized; all had considerable mitigation potential. New Zealand was at the forefront of international research to reduce emissions from pastoral agricultural production, and welcomed collaboration with other nations.
He said that Government funding alone would not suffice to drive the technology changes required, and thus, markets and the private sector must be involved. The intellectual property rights of innovators and entrepreneurs must be protected, but he warned against creating barriers to accessing technologies, particularly in developing countries. Emissions trading schemes were essential to give businesses financial incentives to adopt new, low-carbon technologies. Last week, New Zealand’s Government announced its decision to implement a domestic emissions trading scheme to cover all economic sectors and greenhouse gases.
LAM AKOL AJAWIN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Sudan, said that climate change posed a serious threat to his country, which suffered from a vulnerable and inherently fragile ecosystem on which the vast majority of the population depended. The country endured from recurrent droughts and floods, which were leading to pressing challenges in addressing national priorities of food security, water supply and public health. Several adaptation and mitigating measures had been taken, especially in the energy sector, to steer development activities towards a more sustainable path. The country’s comprehensive National Strategy identified the pursuit of environmental protection as one of its major pillars. Technology played a vital role in adapting to and mitigating the adverse impact of climate change, and it constituted a commitment embedded in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Unfortunately, however, little had been achieved in that regard. Access to clean and environmentally sound affordable technology, technology transfer, capacity-building and adequate predictable financing should be provided to the most vulnerable countries, especially the least developed countries, on preferential terms. Adaptation and mitigation processes were necessary and mutually complementary.
ATTILA KORODI, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of Romania, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had already concluded that human activity had, with 90 per cent accuracy, been responsible for the recent climate change occurring worldwide. The Panel’s Working Group 3 report showed how known technologies could reduce greenhouse gas emissions through appropriate incentives and increased investment in research and development. The report also provided cost estimates for implementation that were lower than its previous assessment. The Stern Review Report on the Economics of Climate Change indicated that the benefits of strong, early global action could considerably outweigh the costs of inaction, and that such action could be done without constraining sustainable growth. The European Union was committed to reducing 30 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions and to a comprehensive global agreement for the post-2012 period. Romania had ratified the Kyoto Protocol, was committed to reducing emissions by 8 per cent and, in the last decade, had instituted reform, which had led to a 40 per cent reduction in emissions from 1989 to 2005.
ANGELO T. REYES, Secretary, Department of Energy of the Philippines, said that his country was no stranger to natural hazards like tropical cyclones, floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Given the direct and adverse manifestations, the country must exert equal effort and emphasis on both mitigation and adaptation, as those were key components for an effective strategy and holistic approach to climate change. Mitigation might be viewed as a longer-range challenge, while adaptation was more of an immediate concern. Both areas required widespread information dissemination activities to impress across all sectors nationally the urgent and important need to address climate change. The urgency of cobbling a global response to climate change was cause for optimism that research and development in energy and related fields would take on a more collaborative and less proprietary character. Now was not the time for countries to think as competing States, but as “co-stewards” of a shared and endangered planet. Developed and developing countries alike bore the responsibility of imparting and sharing knowledge skills and technology to move further along the path of human progress, while mitigating -- or perhaps even reversing -- climate change.
VICTOR MANUEL BARBOSA BORGES, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cape Verde, said that small island developing States were particularly vulnerable to climate change, and many of their species risked extinction. Stepped up financing was needed to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Small island developing States and the least developed countries had launched national action programmes to address climate change, but the international community must support technology transfer, so that those countries could build local capacity to better manage and prevent natural disasters, and improve agricultural production and techniques. Cape Verde was ready to cooperate with all partners in such areas as international migration, food security and alternative fuels to replace fossil fuels. He stressed the need for access to clean energy at reasonable costs, particularly for poor communities. Without global commitments to effectively mitigate global climate change, sustainable development would be an “empty promise”. He questioned the logic of agricultural subsidies in the North when such practices pushed farmers in the South deeper into poverty. Farmers in Cape Verde were trying to adapt to technological advances to help them fight land degradation and desertification.
DIDACE PEMBE BOKIAGA, Minister of Environment of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said that his country was among the most vulnerable to climate change, and he joined others in calling for concrete action to address that extreme phenomenon. His country had finalized its National Programme of Action on Adaptation to Climate Change and had presented a report to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention. It was requesting, as a matter of urgency, financing for the projects identified in that report. Countries of the Congo Basin had the second largest tropical forest in the world. Given the important role played by forests, his country had proposed that positive incentives related to combating deforestation and degradation take into account both efforts to prevent deforestation and the role played by the forest in mitigating climate change.
He said his country believed that the loss of earnings from non-use of forest resources should be compensated in some way. It also proposed the establishment of a permanent stabilization fund to be used to compensate for carbon stocks.
OSMAN SALEH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Eritrea, said that climate change “torments all States”, both economically and technologically advanced States that emitted CO2 and other greenhouse gases, and those that did not. Climate variability was having serious effects on populations worldwide with limited abilities to cope. While malaria had been eradicated in his country, it could return as increasing temperatures shifted malaria zones. That could result in a projected loss of many hundreds of millions of dollars. In addition to the heightened threat of disease, Eritrea and other countries in the region faced resource shortages as a result of desertification and accompanying conflict. Those threats must be met with heavy investment in programmes that promoted and protected the environment. “Promoting and cooperating in the full, open and prompt exchange of relevant scientific, technological, technical, socio-economic and legal information related to climate change is critical,” he stressed.
At the national level, Eritrea had actively engaged its population in local environmental action, through soil conservation efforts, water harvesting, afforestation and the introduction of alternative energy sources and technological innovation, to meet the basic needs of its communities and villages.
While calling for strict fulfilment of the Kyoto Protocol’s obligations in the fight against climate change, ARSENIY YATSENYUK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, said that it was time for the world community to begin to consider a new global, post-Kyoto agreement that could include a sanctions regime. Ukraine’s efforts to meet its obligations under Kyoto included a National Action Plan, an annual greenhouse gas emissions inventory, the founding of a National Agency of Ecological Investments and participation in a joint implementation initiative on improved cement works. Ukraine continued to support an international technology transfer mechanism and would use its scientific and technological institutions to contribute to such an instrument.
Saying that the international community’s institutional ability to combat climate change paled against the threat it faced, he proposed a permanent ecological organization under the United Nations aegis. That body would promote “ecological solidarity and ecological responsibility”, and, by requiring national delegations to include representatives from State bodies, businesses, the scientific community and ecological non-governmental organizations, it would establish a new type of universal membership with diverse national representation. In the long run, he suggested the world community should also consider using the legally binding “Universal Treaty for Protection of Nature” to systemize basic principles for environmental protection and secure strict fulfilment of international environmental law. That proposal would comply with the 2005 World Summit Outcome resolution.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, Secretary of State of the United States, said the United States, a major economy and a major greenhouse gas emitter, took the challenge of climate change very seriously and was prepared to broaden its leadership on the issue. The United States was firmly committed to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Major Economies Meeting to be hosted by the United States next week was the first in a series of meetings to advance ongoing United Nations discussions to seek consensus on key elements of the post-2012 framework on climate change. Climate change required an integrated response involving environmental stewardship, energy supply security and economic growth. The world must develop and bring to market new energy technologies that transcended the current system of fossil fuels, carbon emissions and economic activity. The world needed a technological revolution. The common challenge was to aggressively promote and readily implement technological solutions. Since 2001, the United States had invested almost $18 billion to develop cleaner sources of energy, including through hydrogen technologies, carbon sequestration, advanced nuclear energy, renewable fuels and support for greater energy efficiency. The United States was also working closely to help other countries bring clean energy technologies and alternative energy sources to market.
LAURENT SEDOGO, Minister of the Environment and Quality of Life of Burkina Faso, said that the question of climate change had too often been neglected. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had reported that the trend towards climate change could soon lead to a situation where the ecosystem would have serious difficulty adapting. The consequence for Africa would be devastating. Although Burkina Faso was one of the countries that had not played an insignificant role in causing climate change, it was among those that were most vulnerable. Like the entire Sahel region, it had faced desertification and degradation of the ecosystem for more than three decades. It had also faced destructive recurrent downpours during the 1990s. That had had a severe effect on the fragile economy. In order to stop or reverse climate change, the international community needed to move towards in-depth technological transformation. That required a genuine plan of action at the global level based on the principle of “the polluter pays”. His country was convinced that the problem of climate change was so important that it could not be left to market mechanisms. For its part, Burkina Faso had undertaken efforts commensurate with its means, including massive reforestation campaigns.
Wrapping up the morning meeting, President Ramos-Horta of Timor-Leste, and the morning session’s Co-Chair, said that speakers had shed light on the need for various strategies to address climate change, including: new forms of cooperation; better South-South cooperation; innovative and creative approaches; an optimal mix of “pull” from the carbon market and “push” for new technologies; as well as carbon capture and storage technologies.
TZIPI LIVNI, Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Israel, said that the geography of her country and the limitless innovation of its people had made them leaders in developing technology to address environmental challenges, including climate change. The same people who had made the desert bloom were now devoting their energies and inventiveness to new environmental technologies and were eager to share their success, as well as lessons learnt from their failures. For Israel, necessity had long been the mother of invention. Israel was not blessed with oil or gas reserves, or with abundant natural resources. Water for the country and its neighbours was a precious commodity, but those limitations had been turned into opportunities. Israeli farmers could use saline water to grow cherry tomatoes; Israeli technicians were building one of the largest solar power plants on the planet; and 75 per cent of Israeli homes had solar heating. Those and many more innovations had made the country a true laboratory for cutting edge environmental technology. Many of those developments would be on display at an international exhibition Israel would host on water and environmental technologies at the end of October. As noted by the Secretary-General, no country could overcome the challenge of climate change alone. Progress in one State could easily be undone by lack of progress in another. Never before had the need for global partnership been so pressing.
ALFRED GUSENBAUER, Chancellor of Austria, said the Stern Review had shown that affordable mitigation solutions existed. The wasteful management of energy resources in the industrial world must be reversed. A science and technology revolution, supported by public and private investment, was needed to reduce global emissions and fight climate change. Standard regulations governing energy efficiency would foster innovative and private sector investment in low-carbon technologies. He called for research and development in energy efficient technologies and renewable energy, including solar thermal, geothermal, wind, biofuels and hydrocarbon. Many efficient technologies existed. A push was needed to make them commercially affordable and available. High cost and other barriers to technology transfer must be removed. Austria had set up a national climate and energy fund to foster research and development and bring new technologies to market. The country used hydropower extensively and had already surpassed the European Union’s target of relying on renewable energy for 20 per cent of national energy usage by 2020.
AHMAD BIN ABDULLAH AL-MAHMOUD, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Qatar, said that international cooperation efforts could help ensure that timely effective actions were taken to reduce the causes and mitigate the effects of climate change, and further the implementation of Agenda 21, the action plan of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and to achieve the goals of sustainable development overall. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change remained the main platform for multilateral action at the national level on all aspects of mitigation and adaptation. Developing and facilitating the transfer of modern technologies constituted a fundamental element of global action in the fight against climate change. It allowed individuals and communities alike to adapt to climate change. The optimal and effective solution to the problem could only be achieved by addressing it in an integrated manner within the process of sustainable development. In order to strengthen the capacity to adapt and implement effective measures, developing countries needed additional development and investment assistance so that they could implement those development programmes and strategies that would help them adapt to and mitigate the devastating effects of climate change.
JEAN-MARIE CLAUDE GERMAIN, Minister of Environment of Haiti, said worrying phenomena such as the rise in sea level and surface temperature, were occurring in the Caribbean as a result of climate change. Haiti was grappling with the salianation of its beaches and increased coral bleaching. The economic and structural repercussions of such changes for Haiti and other small island developing States were severe. Land degradation and natural disasters were very hard on small island developing States and their high risk to such calamities made it difficult to achieve the millennium targets. Haitian farmers suffered from decreased revenue and devastating floods. Hurricanes and cyclones in the twenty-first century had claimed almost 14,000 Haitian lives -– including hurricane Jean in September 2004, which led to losses of $265 million, or 7 per cent of Haiti’s gross domestic product (GDP). Haiti’s experience clearly showed an extricable link between climate change and poverty. Haiti, Cuba and the Dominican Republic had formed the Caribbean’s first biological corridor. Hopefully, their tripartite environmental agreement, supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), could benefit coral ecosystems, which were vulnerable to climate change.
YACOUB RIAD SARRAF, former Environment Minister and Special Envoy of the President of Lebanon, reiterated the importance and necessity of global action on climate change, which he described as “a significant global environmental predicament that stands to shake the realms of human civilization”. Climate change would likely result in sea level rise and intense natural disasters in many regions. It would likely alter the variability of precipitation and the quantity of available water. Food security could worsen as climate change increased the risk of harvest failure. Entire cities might be in danger, and human settlements and whole communities threatened. He reiterated the stance of the Group of 77 and China that developed countries “have a specific responsibility” to carry out deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emission in accordance with the commitments made under the Climate Change Convention and the Kyoto Protocol. The Group simultaneously deplored the fact that commitments made in Kyoto and at other United Nations Conferences “have not been translated into action on the ground”. The international community should be aware of the difficulties facing Lebanon in fulfilling its commitments under the Framework Convention. Israel had repeatedly and deliberately destroyed the same infrastructure that could be invested in combating climate change. The repeated aggressions of 1996 and 2000 on the Jamhour and Bsaleem power substations, and Baalbeck and Deir Amar power plants, had been witness to Israel’s deliberate disrespect of United Nations Security Council resolutions.
LO SZE PING, Campaign Director, Greenpeace China, speaking on behalf of Climate Action Network International, said one recent study revealed that China was the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide. China’s National Climate Change Programme committed China to real action, such as binding renewable energy and energy efficiency targets that were stronger and more ambitious than in some industrialized countries. China was already suffering worsening droughts, floods and typhoons, as a result of climate change. Glaciers in Asia were increasingly receding and threatening water resources for hundreds of millions of people. There must be a massive uptake in renewable energy technologies in China and elsewhere to replace coal as fuel. The barriers to clean and efficient technologies were political and financial. The Kyoto Protocol and domestic renewable energy and energy efficiency laws must be strengthened. China, Brazil, India and South Africa must participate in the Kyoto trading system. He called for a massive clean technology deployment mechanism for developing countries, with investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency of $300 billion annually.
JOHAN VERBEKE ( Belgium) said that existing innovative clean technologies necessary for combating climate change already existed. Known technologies could reduce greenhouse gas emissions provided the necessary incentives were in place. The focus should not only be on developing new technologies, but on how best to interest the market and users to adopt those technologies and how to create favourable environments. The forces of the marketplace must be used. Small- and medium-sized businesses were already implementing environmentally friendly solutions. The emissions trading market was also necessary. The European emissions market was crucial, but such mechanisms must promote sustainable development. In Belgium, special attention was being given to social and economic impacts when such mechanisms were adopted. The transfer of technology required a favourable environment and called for solid bilateral and multilateral cooperation. The world could no longer postpone action, but must work on a legally binding framework based on the Framework Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, starting now.
RONALD JEAN JUMEAU ( Seychelles) said he was disappointed that most of the technology discussed today aimed at helping polluters lower their emissions, but there was little talk about technology that would help small island developing States adapt to climate change. Those countries were most vulnerable to climate change and most were in need of suitable, adaptable technologies. Some small island developing States and low-lying countries were actually looking at how best they could help themselves. They hoped to enlist the expertise and support of donor countries and organizations. It was not enough to call for more action under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Countries needed their own concrete action. Time to address climate change was running out. Tomorrow Seychelles President would announce the launch of a global Sea-level Rise Foundation, which would bring together nations, scientists and policymakers to share technology, ideas and know-how. The Government of Italy, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, and Nature Conservancy were sponsoring tomorrow’s meeting. The Foundation would guide Governments and investors alike on raising the resources needed to achieve the Foundation’s aims.
BASHAR JA’AFARI ( Syria) said that his country had always sought to ensure that its development efforts were consistent with international environmental norms. Syria was now preparing its first communiqué on climate change. The document covered adaptation to climate change, and dealt with measures needed to control the phenomenon. Syria was seeking to find renewable sources of energy both, in the short- and long-term. It believed that developing countries could not deal with the problems of climate change by themselves, but that the developed countries had an obligation to honour their commitments under the relevant climate change conventions. With regard to transfer of technology, current constraints should be removed in order to advance know-how. Real political will was needed to ensure international consensus on climate change.
NURBEK JEENBAEV ( Kyrgyzstan) said that, in 2003, Kyrgyzstan had presented its first national plan on climate change. The country’s average atmospheric temperature was predicted to increase and be higher than the global average. As a result, Kyrgyzstan would have to rebuild roads, homes and, in some cases, relocate entire cities. Rising temperatures were causing glaciers to melt at an increasingly faster rate. In Kyrgyzstan, increased rainy winters would lead to increased summer mudslides. Climate change would affect human beings, plant breeding, growing seasons and harvests. It could greatly impact public health and could lead to greater incidences of cardiovascular diseases. Kyrgyzstan, with the help of the Global Environmental Facility and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), was producing its second report on climate change. He called for a serious review of the hydroelectric power potential and pointed to the threat of insufficient water resources on agricultural production. More attention was needed to address the consequences of technological disasters, he said, noting that waste disposal was another major threat in his country.
JAMES ROGERS, Chairman of Duke Energy, said that the issue of climate change should be addressed in a way that it did not worsen current global economic disparities. There was need to build a bridge to a low carbon economy. Governments should invest in research and development. He proposed a worldwide competition among countries focusing on energy efficiency, saying that such a competition could drive more efficient energy utilization throughout the world. Ways should also be sought for the cleaner use of coal. Nuclear energy was another very important source of energy. The 20-year decline in investment in research and energy development should be reversed. No one matrix could effectively tell the story of climate change around the world. The effort to address that phenomenon should be to adopt an approach that allowed for the international community to spend the necessary time, money and commitment to achieve the desired goal.
ALEXEI TULBURE ( Moldova) said that science and research clearly demonstrated that climate change was caused by human activity and would have catastrophic consequences for the planet and mankind. Fossil fuel use was closely linked with development. Yet, the current ways of investing in traditional fuel technologies must be changed as new technologies could help reduce energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions. As a party to the United Nations Framework Convention, Moldova had launched national plans to implement the aims of the Kyoto Protocol. The country had set up an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation programme. Soon, it would prepare its first national report on climate change. Moldova was committed to increasing energy efficiency and energy conservation. It was an “Annex 1” party to the Convention and had reduced emissions by more than 20 per cent in the last 15 years. It had programmes for the development and use of solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and other renewable energies. Moldova was also focusing on reducing deforestation. During this year’s national “Day of Greening” some 29,000 trees and 15,000 bushes had been planted. He stressed the need to better protect wetlands, noting that they stored carbon much better and longer than forests.
PHILIP SEALY ( Trinidad and Tobago) noted that the projected emission of greenhouse gases, if unchecked, could result in a warming of about 5° C over pre-industrial levels, which the world could not afford. The projected impact of even a warming of 2° C would likely result in scenarios that could prove too overwhelming for adaptation by the most vulnerable countries, all of which were situated in the developing world. There were various barriers to technology transfers from developed to developing countries at various strata, ranging from policy and legislative frameworks to end-user capacity. Capacity-building in facilitating technology transfers in developing countries by creating the right enabling environment was a critical issue for most developing countries and might also be an issue for some developed countries in terms of facilitating transfers. The latter group of countries had a responsibility to ensure the sustainable development of developing countries by providing the necessary resources -– financial, technical and technological -- in order to address an issue that was of importance to all countries of the world.
RAYMOND O. WOLFE ( Jamaica) said that the debate on the causes of climate change had ended with the Climate Change Panel’s fourth assessment report and the time for concrete action had begun. First, “deep and rapid” reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by major emitters was needed in the next 10 to 15 years. Second, vulnerable countries must be provided with assistance and support. For small island developing States like Jamaica, a comprehensive vulnerability assessment and subsequent counteraction strategies was necessary.
Citing Jamaica’s ongoing efforts to increase the amount of energy generated from renewable sources and its attempts to increase energy efficiency, he said that adaptation and related technologies would be the primary means of combating climate change for small island developing States. Consequently, they should be given priority status in support programmes developed by the international community. Greater efforts should be made to develop and transfer eco-friendly technologies -– particularly those that dealt with mitigation and adaptation technologies. Research grants, especially those that would develop institutional capacity at regional climate change centres, should also be made available. Technological cooperation between developed countries and small island developing States was crucial to increase public and private investment in low-carbon technology and to drive innovation.
SAMIR ALI, Minister of Planning of Palestine, associating himself with the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, noted that developing countries, especially vulnerable to climate change, were hampered by limited resources in meeting their collective responsibility. A spirit of partnership should guide them, and their right to sustainable development should be guaranteed. Established instruments should serve as a foundation for combating climate change. The Palestinian people, despite being under occupation for more than 40 years, had incorporated environmental considerations into their laws and development strategies. Palestine had also actively participated in related multilateral international and regional meetings and conferences. Yet environmental management was “a nearly impossible task” in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.
Unable to control their access to natural resources including water, the Palestinian people had faced several challenges, including: ecological fragmentation of natural eco-systems, habitats and landscapes; degradation of vegetation cover, biodiversity and landscape; deterioration of environmental service infrastructure like water and sewage systems; inadequate waste collection, treatment and disposal; and illegal exploitation of natural resources. He stressed the importance of the “collective international responsibility to protect the environment as a global objective whose importance must supersede all political considerations”. Protection and assistance must be afforded the Palestinian people in sustainable development and environmental protection.
Thematic Plenary IV –- Financing
Thematic Plenary IV -– on “Financing the response to climate change -– investing in tomorrow” -– was facilitated by Han Seung-soo, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General. Kemal Derviş, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was Rapporteur. Co-chairs were: Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of Norway, and Abdoulaye Wade, President of Senegal, for the morning session; and Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, and Fredrik Reinfeldt, Prime Minister of Sweden for the afternoon session.
Mr. STOLTENBERG, Prime Minister of Norway, said that the discussion was not meant to negotiate, but to share ideas on financing the response to climate change. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had reported that, in order to prevent the most devastating consequences, global warming must be stabilized within 2° Celsius of pre-industrial levels. That implied that by 2050, the level of emissions must be half that of 1990. The focus of the Plenary was how to finance that mitigation.
He said the report of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on investment and financial flows stated that, in 2030, an additional $200 billion would be needed. However, those costs were small compared to the cost that would be incurred by the devastation caused by delay. A stage had been reached already where significant impacts could not be avoided. Those impacts would be most harshly felt by those who had contributed least to the problem. Industrialized countries must take the greatest responsibility. Developing economies had a right to develop and must be given strong incentives for growing in a more climate-friendly manner.
Global adaptation to climate change would require several tens of billions of dollars in 2030. The task today was to explore the public policy instrument and the private sector’s role, which could mobilise those funds. “Little could we have conceived, when we began our political careers, the nature and magnitude of the challenge of climate change that we now face. This is the time, and this is the place to rise to it. I know we will,” he said.
Mr. SEUNG-SOO said that combating climate change would involve massive shifts in investment patterns in a wide range of sectors, spanning power generation, industry, the built environment, waste, transport, agriculture and forestry. According to the report of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, a return to current levels by 2030 would require an increase in global investments and financial flows in the range of $200 billion by that year.
While the cost of adaptation to climate change was difficult to estimate, he said it was clear that several billion dollars of additional investment and financial flows would be needed. The Framework Convention report estimated additional investment in 2030 of $28 to $67 billion in developing countries alone. Unless a new course was charted, funding would be insufficient. A strengthened post-2012 regime would mean having an international climate policy that directed such investments towards developing countries and towards more sustainable options. It would also mean having an ambitious and inclusive carbon market, with incentives that channelled private funding into low-carbon, more climate-proof alternatives.
He said that the key objective of increased financing must be to help countries channel direct investment towards climate-friendly technologies and to integrate climate change risk management into domestic policies and practices across the board. For progress, questions must be answered about optimizing finance and new sources of investment, as well as about the role of public financing, carbon finance, emissions trading, regulations and other Government-led initiatives, and private sector involvement.
MAHINDA RAJAPAKSA, President of Sri Lanka, said that, largely as a result of human activity, the precious environment of his country was unstable and increasingly hostile. Developed countries, which in the rush to development had adopted approaches that were not environmentally friendly, must bear a greater burden in addressing the threat of climate change. Developing countries, which were now seeking only to improve the lives of their people, must be given the ability to achieve their development goals consistent with the need to protect the environment. Mechanisms must be established to enable developing countries to engage in carbon trading and trade in the value which was placed on the forest cover that many of those countries had inherited. Traditional knowledge and experience in maintaining the forest cover must be acknowledged and utilised. Also, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change must adopt the Climate Change Adaptation Fund.
NICOLAS SARKOZY, President of France, emphasized that the industrialized nations had a special responsibility to combat climate change, with the first goal in that effort being the achievement of clean growth. “A new economy must be invented,” he said, with new technologies that included nuclear energy, with which France was willing to help other countries. Further priorities were protecting forests and assisting the adaptation of the most vulnerable populations. The question was not whether those goals could be financed, but how. Carbon must have a price, either through market mechanisms or through taxes, over which a debate was ongoing in France. The approach must be by sector and no longer only by country.
In addition, he said a portion of the emission credits must be auctioned and there must be a strong expansion of clean development mechanisms to enable “polluting” companies to invest in ecological development of the emerging and developing countries. “Let us have the courage to allow all to join the carbon market voluntarily, with flexible carbon-emission objectives,” he said, adding that public financing would also be indispensable. Financing adaptation was the priority for Africa and the most vulnerable countries. France had devoted official development assistance amounting to more than €430 million to projects that fought climate change and intended to ensure their viability. He called on all industrialized nations to commit to adaptation support.
PRINCE ALBERT II, Head of State of Monaco, said a significant part of future investments in the energy sector must be devoted to renewable energies, to nuclear and hydro-energy and to systems for stockpiling CO2. Other investments were necessary in research and development of new technologies. Public funding must increase, and private investments must also be stepped up. The expected profitability of investors who choose to invest responsibly had increased. Socially responsible investment was now viable, and initiatives like United Nations principles for responsible investments must be disseminated better. Mechanisms such as a carbon tax and trading must be considered. Additional financing could also come from philanthropy, he said, and announced that he had set up his own foundation that would identify private projects and speed up implementation of new technologies.
VALDIS ZATLERS, President of Latvia, spoke of financing mitigation of climate change as an investment in the future. If action were taken now, it would cost only 1 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP). Delay would greatly increase costs. Reductions in greenhouse gas emissions should not be made at the expense of development. Rather it should promote the only kind of development that would remain competitive in the future: low carbon economic development.
He stressed the importance of setting long-term binding targets for greenhouse gas emissions beyond the expiration of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012 and encouraging investment in low carbon technologies. He also suggested drawing on the experience of the European Union Emission Trading Scheme in extending the global carbon market. Latvia is currently establishing a climate change financial instrument that would serve as a “green investment scheme” to administer proceeds from international emissions trading with the goal of promoting the use of renewable energy, stimulating energy efficiency and investment in low carbon technologies.
JOSE RAMOS HORTA, President of Timor-Leste, said that the people most vulnerable to climate change in his new country were the hundreds of thousands in the rural sector, stressing that developed countries had a particular responsibility to reduce emissions and to mitigate the effects of changes. In addition, new sources of funding must be developed to help developing countries to adapt. He was eager, as well, to work with the Global Environmental Facility, and to participate in all international efforts on measures to mitigate climate change and its effects.
MARTING TORRIJOS, President of Panama, said extreme weather events had increased as a result of the delay in dealing with climate change. Political will was needed to take decisive action. Central and Latin America were extremely vulnerable to climate change. Panama had suffered from six extreme events that had caused the loss of life and damage to the ecosystem. Adapting to climate change would require more than $100 billion annually. Support was needed for clean development projects. Developed countries must make a greater commitment in reducing emissions and support developing countries, so that they could obtain development based on carbon free energy. Panama had encouraged specific actions, including the expansion of the Panama Canal, which would reduce greenhouse gas emissions as shipping time would be reduced.
EL HADJ OMAR BONGO ONDIMBA, President of Gabon, said that his country had established 13 national parks, making up 11 per cent of its land area, in addition to forest preservation programmes, all of which benefited the human race as a whole. His country would continue to pursue sustainable development, but it must be supported in that effort and each Member State must shoulder its responsibility. For that reason, there must be greater funding and capacity-building from developed countries. Technology transfer was particularly important in that regard. If all countries took seriously their responsibilities, it would be possible to meet the challenge of climate change.
BORIS TADIĆ, President of Serbia, said the single factor underlying all questions of climate change was knowledge. A large body of scientific information, providing a solid basis for developing adequate policies and measures to address climate change, existed, he said. Their application to developing economies and those in transition should be appropriate to the specific conditions of those societies and integrated into their national development plans, as economic development was essential to the actual adoption of such measures.
He praised the Nairobi Work Programme on Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change, but said that parts of programme implementation were too costly for developing economies, unless developed countries met their financial and technological commitments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. To alleviate the problem, he proposed the creation of subregional groups. He described such a programme that would be centred in Belgrade, to serve the countries of South-East Europe. It would offer a virtual climate change centre for research, education, public awareness and capacity-building and provide coordination for a regional action plan. He invited the participation of Governments, the private sector and civil society organizations.
AHMED ABADALLAH SAMBI, President of Comoros, said climate change was a real danger, in particular for small island developing States, where the effects were real, palpable and alarming. In his country, vulnerability was a result of global warming and the destruction of the ozone layer. Extreme weather events brought complete disarray. Ways and means must be sought to help those most afflicted. Public financing, the banking world and the right countries must make their impact felt through a consistent and continuous financial plan. Vulnerability studies showed that extreme events had a terrible impact on economies. His country could not escape the phenomenon of climate change and would, among other things, suffer $400 million damage to its coastal areas.
He said that globally there must be greater awareness and greater solidarity. Despite a lack of resources, his country was willing to implement the provisions of the Climate Change Convention. It could not implement the measures effectively, however, unless there was international cooperation, particularly in the transfer of environmentally-friendly technology. He urged financial institutions to offer the support needed, in order to implement measures to combat climate change.
KEITH C. MITCHELL, Prime Minister of Grenada, Chairman of the Alliance of Small Island States, speaking on behalf of the Alliance, described the serious and immediate effects of climate change on small island States, among them the increasing ferocity of hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons appearing in unusual latitudes, the loss of ecosystems; the need for new infrastructure, such as the building of sea defences and areas for safe-zone resettlement; and the need to change fundamental economic foundations, such as the switch from farming to tourism due to desertification. Sea temperature rise had also caused the bleaching of coral reefs and produced a harmful impact on fish stocks, a principle source of protein and foreign exchange, and on fishermen’s revenues.
When the Seychelles suffered a cyclone for the first time in 50 years, following an earlier tsunami, the World Bank withheld post-disaster financing for three years. Hurricane Ivan, the first hurricane to have hit Grenada in 49 years, caused destruction two times the country’s gross domestic product, devastating agriculture (including 80 per cent of nutmeg forests), housing and costing the lives of 35 people. He praised the efforts of Papua New Guinea for its work on improving access to funding of forestation, re-forestation and maintenance of tropical forests in small island States. He called for the urgent completion of institutional arrangements for the Adaptation Fund by the Thirteenth Conference of Parties to the Climate Change Convention, guaranteeing priority to the needs of small island developing States and looked forward to reforms that would make the Global Environmental Facility more responsive to their needs. Finally, he urged greater political will for the December 2007 Conference in Bali, and said that its negotiations must be completed by 2009, with a framework that would have “the viability and adaptability of the most vulnerable”, as its fundamental benchmark.
OTMAR HASLER, Prime Minister of Liechtenstein, said the United Nations provided the only framework that could deliver a global solution to the impact of climate change and must therefore be the forum for negotiations. Today’s meeting should create political momentum for negotiations at the Bali Conference in December.
He said that, although his country’s gas emissions were small in absolute terms, the Government was working on an integrated system, in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol and the European Emission Trading Scheme, towards an energy efficient and stable economy, and had adopted a political and legal framework to that end. Liechtenstein had also been encouraging participation by the private sector through a bill on emissions trading that would help shift private financial flows into more climate-friendly technologies and the Government was preparing a bill to regulate the purchase of carbon credits within a comprehensive climate protection strategy, requiring high standards of sustainability and technology transfer as a precondition for purchase.
WINSTON BALDWIN SPENCER, Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Antigua and Barbuda, said that financing efforts countering climate change and adaptation to it was a key challenge that required diverse mechanisms. Small island developing States were on the front line of vulnerability; sustainable development and biodiversity were directly threatened. Adaptation must be done in an integrated manner, and the onus of its financing was on those who had contributed most to greenhouse emissions. There was an urgent need for improved access to international financing. The Global Facility should prioritize such projects, as opposed to doing more studies and reports. Disaster-reduction funds were also needed, to keep natural disasters from turning into humanitarian crises.
ZELJKO STURANOVIC, Prime Minister of Montenegro, said that Montenegro has declared itself an ecological State, with the intention of cooperating with the international community on all issues related to climate change. The Government had intensified efforts to establish a nationally authorized body for the approval of Clean Development Mechanism projects, which were particularly effective for developing countries. It had also initiated activities to develop public-private partnerships by introducing incentives for the use of such projects. As an ecological State, the country had been setting standards for fulfilling obligations under international agreements on sustainable development, the Millennium Development Goals, economic reform, and as it was preparing to enter the European Union.
Mr. STURANOVIC reviewed his country’s concrete successes in reducing carbon dioxide emissions between 1990 and 2003, primarily in the industrial, forestry and land use sectors, and noted that emissions from the energy and agriculture sectors remained constant. Montenegro had possibilities for the development of renewable energy sources through hydro-potential, wind, sun and bio-mass, and it was working with United Nations agencies to introduce environmental standards in the construction and energy delivery industries. Greater regional and international cooperation would contribute to a more efficient transfer of know-how and funding for environmental projects. Overall, the challenges of climate change could only be addressed within the world Organization.
ISATOU NJIE-SAIDY, Vice-President of Gambia, said the Climate Change Convention had informed the global community that the additional amount of investment and financial flows in 2030 to address climate change would amount to between 1.1 and 1.7 per cent of total global investments. The World Bank had estimated that the additional costs of adaptation could be between $4 and $37 billion a year. The funds that were currently available under the Convention and the Protocol were insufficient. The Least Developed Countries Fund for the implementation of National Adaptation Programme of Actions (NAPA), for instance, had identified projects of $340 million. The international community must explore other avenues to raise the required additional funding. The key challenge at the Bali Conference in December was to devise an agreement that demonstrated leadership in complying with the principle of common but differentiated responsibility and one that would attract wide participation, including all countries with significant sources of emissions.
TAVAU TEII, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Tuvalu, said that, even if all greenhouse gas emissions stopped today, the effect of the gases already in the atmosphere would continue to adversely affect the livelihoods from those in small island developing States. There must, therefore, be a commitment by the international community to provide predictable and sufficient international funding arrangements, such that the most vulnerable had the resources and know-how to adequately prepare for and cope with the impacts of climate change. Adaptation funding needed to be de-linked from “aid/charity” thinking and linked to a “polluter-pays/obligations” paradigm.
He said there was also a need to carefully consider issues of equitable representation of developing countries in the governance of adaptation funding. The Global Environmental Facility could not do the job of administering the Adaptation Fund. New arrangements must be established by a decision of the Conference of Parties to the Convention. The United Nations Development Programme should manage the Fund and use its regional offices to allocate project funding in an expedited manner. Additional funding could come from a levy on all airfares and maritime freight charges, contributions from all parties based on a responsibility scale and corporate pledges. The poor and most vulnerable must be the primary recipients of the Fund. An international insurance mechanism should be established to provide relief for countries and communities affected by the impact of climate change.
THONGLOUN SISOULITH, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, joined the statement made by Pakistan on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China. He said that, while all countries had an interest in controlling climate change, the developed world should lead the way by taking immediate domestic action to reduce harmful gas emissions. He also called for financial and technical assistance from the international community to the least developed countries and small island developing States in building adaptive capacity and acquiring appropriate technologies. Climate change was crucial to these nations, but beyond their financial capacities.
He reported on his country’s success in battling climate change in forestry development and conservation. Forestry area in his country reached 11.2 million hectares in 2005, while wood exploitation had declined by 50 per cent. The practice of shifting cultivation also saw a significant decline between 2001 and 2005. His Government had undertaken a number of strategies aimed at increasing the ratio of green areas and ending slash-and-burn cultivation by 2010, reducing carbon dioxide emissions from all sources and cutting the use of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons. He emphasized the importance of working on climate change issues within the United Nations and called upon all Member States that have not done so to ratify and implement the Climate Change Convention and Kyoto Protocol.
JEAN ASSELBORN, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration of Luxembourg, said that efforts to mitigate the effects of global warming would become more expensive if delayed. Carbon markets were an essential mechanism, which should be extended, but they required an effective multilateral regime with an appropriate legal framework. The main weakness of the current carbon market was the lack of a long-term commitment to reducing overall emissions, as well as the legal framework and the non-participation of major actors. Investors must be able to have confidence in the market. The public sector, in partnership with the private sector, must also have a greater role in encouraging clean research and development.
He said the industrialized countries must take the leadership in reducing emissions, as well as in assisting developing countries to both increase the sustainability of their development and reduce their vulnerability. An example of such a role is provided by the cooperation between Luxembourg and Burkina Faso for conservation of its natural resources and combat against desertification. In addition, in the next conference of parties to the Kyoto Protocol, new means of resource mobilization for adaptation to climate change must be found.
STEVE HOWARD, Chief Executive Officer of the civil society organization “Climate Group”, said his organization was an international non-governmental organization that promoted business and Government leadership on climate change and worked with cities and States. The costs of inaction greatly exceeded the cost of action. There were reports that the estimated 1 per cent of gross domestic product as the cost of action might be an exaggeration. However, 4 per cent of gross domestic product was currently spent on advertising.
He said the alternative energy economy, in which three million people worldwide were employed, was already building. Its technologies were increasingly proven. The growing carbon market was driving pricing and it was increasingly supported by business. However, the carbon market was not a silver bullet. New technologies, which required extra investments, as well as regulations, were needed. The private sector was seeking strong action by Governments, so that business investments could be unleashed. Combating climate change was an opportunity and many corporations were going carbon neutral. It was a matter of political will and commitment.
ABDOULAYE WADE, President of Senegal, described efforts his country was making towards sustainable development, resource conservation and adaptation to climate change. He said that such efforts, many of which benefited all of Africa, were expensive for Senegal and must be supported. For example, a wall to contain the sea cost approximately $2,000 per metre.
U NYAN WIN, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Head of Delegation, Myanmar, aligned his statement with that made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. He spoke of the inherent injustice in the willingness of the developed world to deal with the adverse effects of climate change, through development benefits derived from the natural resources, acquired from developing countries -- those most vulnerable to and least prepared to deal with these climate change effects. Further, the economic activities of the developed countries have mainly been responsible for the emission of greenhouse gases affecting the climate system. He called for redress of this injustice.
He said that climate change was not only an adaptation challenge for developing countries, but a challenge to sustainable development. Those challenges required a coordinated and integrated approach to economic growth, social development and environmental protection, as well as financial resources, technological support and capacity building. All four thematic areas would have to be addressed simultaneously. “Responding to climate change calls for huge investment, public and private, domestic and external,” he said. The financial mechanism of the Framework Convention and its Kyoto Protocol should have to be strengthened. In addition, developed countries should fulfil commitments made at the international conferences to enable developing countries to achieve internationally agreed development goals.
YESHEY DORJI, Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Bhutan, said Bhutan, a small, landlocked developing country in the Himalayas, had always tried to ensure that economic growth and progress were not achieved at the cost of the environment. Over 70 per cent of the country still remained under forest cover. However, the country had to grapple with the adverse consequences of climate change. The rate of receding glaciers in the Himalayas was a matter of concern. Urgent early warning systems, adaptation and mitigation measures were necessary to deal with flooding glacier lakes. Those measures required resources and know-how, which his country lacked. He called for adequate funding, particularly for the landlocked countries.
DAVIES KATSONGA, Minister of Presidential and Parliamentary Affairs of Malawi, aligned himself with the statements to be made by Pakistan on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and Benin on behalf of the Least Developed Countries in Plenaries I and III respectively. His country faced great environmental challenges due to climate change, which, left unchecked, would continue to reverse any development progress made. The agricultural and fishing industries, surface and ground water resources, wildlife conservation, health, forestry and energy resources had already been affected. In response, Malawi had created an adaptation plan, requiring an estimated $22.43 million.
To provide such funds, he said the Clean Development Mechanism was an outstanding example of a United Nations-led partnership linking Government action to the private sector, which was already being used for such purposes as tree planting and carbon sequestration. He appealed for further international assistance to build capacity and allow his country to fulfil all its obligations in mitigating climate change.
JAKAYA MRISHO KIKWETE, President of the United Republic of Tanzania and the afternoon’s co-chair, said the need to finance adaptation was urgent, as the stage had been reached where significant impacts on the planet could not be avoided. Financing was a cross-cutting matter. Existing mechanisms for mitigation must be perfected and new mechanisms established to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions. However, in doing so, food productions must not be threatened and economic development should proceed. Developing countries, in particular least developed countries and small island developing States, were particularly vulnerable to climate change and their adaptation required financing.
He said the Climate Change Convention had highlighted the role of technology. Access to those technologies by developing countries required financing. The Presidents of France and Sri Lanka had raised the matter of countries that protected the forest. Those countries should be compensated, as many developing countries had dedicated a significant portion of their land mass to forests and nature reserves. If the Global Environmental Facility, the Adaptation Fund, the Least Developed Countries Fund and other initiatives were to bear fruit, there was need to take into account the adequacy and predictability in the flow of funds.
HILARY BENN, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of the United Kingdom, said, from statements this morning, it was pretty clear that commitments already made were not enough to deal with the consequences of climate change. He wondered what was going to happen -- if people were going to fight about water, or if refugees were fleeing not violence but environmental catastrophe. Climate change was not only an environmental problem, but a political and economic one: it was a problem of the future of the world.
He said global temperature increase must be limited to no more than 2 degrees and binding emission reduction commitments from all, repeat all, developed countries were necessary. Without that, there would be no carbon market, which could be a source of significant financial flows for developing countries. There was also a need for innovative financing. An agreement could be reached today on the elements of what was necessary. Action was what mattered.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT, Foreign Minister of Egypt, stressed the importance of delivering on commitments as a prerequisite for addressing climate change. He said that was particularly important in the area of technology transfer and capacity-building for developing countries. In general, studies showed that existing financial mechanisms were insufficient, and additional financing sources were needed for developing countries. He proposed the establishment of an institutional financial mechanism based on the quota system, to be the responsibility of Annex I countries of the Kyoto Protocol, based on their level of emissions and related factors.
He said it was imperative, at the same time, to seek new forms of financing for sustainable development. In that context, funds should be mobilized for developing countries from financial institutions and assistance agencies, as well as through the development of new mechanisms, such as the carbon market and emissions trading, of which the benefits for developing countries should be further extended.
MARCO HAUSIKU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Namibia spoke of recurrent droughts his country had experienced due to climate change. He held to the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities and capabilities”, adding that, as industrialized countries had been emitting more greenhouse gases than other countries, they should lead in mitigating climate change and supporting the efforts of developing countries to adapt to its effects. Namibia’s Constitution required support for the environment, but climate change had made compliance with this requirement difficult. In compliance with the Framework Convention, the Government has approved the establishment of a Dedicated National Authority and a Clean Development Mechanism, and committed itself to increase the share of clean and renewable energy sources in the national energy mix.
He said his Government had also developed many programmes to monitor environmental changes and serve as an early warning system, compile databases, inventories and technical documents and promote programmes on desertification, “woody” resources, biodiversity conservation, wetland management and land use planning. The Government envisaged a climate change strategy and action plan, which would require funding to be developed, as planned, next year. A number of community-based programmes had been launched but to accomplish more, financial and technical support was required. He called on all stakeholders to ensure that Bali would produce an agreement ensuring that there would be no vacuum between 2012 and the entry into a force of a new arrangement.
DATUK SERI SYED HAMID ALBAR, Foreign Affairs Minister of Malaysia, said that, while both developing and developed countries must work to mitigate the effects of climate change in their countries, it fell to the developed world to do more, particularly financially, in keeping with its historical responsibility and the principle of common, but differentiated responsibility. Developing countries had been told to radically transform systems of energy, transport, industry, agriculture and housing, but without the means to do so. That had made it difficult for them to commit to legally binding targets to curb greenhouse gases. He called upon developed countries to take the lead on finance and economic issues for a post-2012 climate regime.
He said that funding, without unworkable conditions, was essential to mitigating the effects of climate change. He called for easy access to existing world environment funds, the rapid realization of the Adaptation Fund under the Kyoto Protocol, and a new, large fund financed by developed countries to aid developing nations in building up defences against the disruptive forces of climate change and undertaking reconstruction and rehabilitation measures following major, disruptive climatic events. Without that commitment, there would be no effective post-2012 regime. Malaysia had allocated substantial funds to mitigate climate change and, with the private sector, to improve energy efficiency, increase use of renewable energy and conduct research.
DAVID MWIRARIA, Minister for Environment and Natural Resources of Kenya, said that his country was undertaking several initiatives to understand how it could adapt to the severe effects of climate change. However, it needed international support for those initiatives. The longer the delay, the more costly such efforts would be. Climate change could only be addressed through collective action, including long-term funding for adaptation for developing countries. Studies showed that tens of billions of dollars were needed, but so far only a few hundred million dollars were available from voluntary funding sources. That huge gap needed to be filled urgently.
In that context, he said that the proposed Adaptation Fund should be operational by Conference of the Parties 13, and Annex II parties should contribute more resources to it. He supported the “adaptation levy” as one basis for providing further funds, with emissions trading and joint implementation mechanisms levied higher than 2 per cent. Achieving equitable regional distribution of projects from the Clean Development Mechanism was also a priority. A regional approach to the development and marketing of CDM projects would make projects more attractive to investors.
CHARLES SAVARIN, Foreign Minister of Dominica, said that the earliest impacts of climate change were most visible in the small island States of the Caribbean in the form of increased natural disasters, higher sea levels and warmer oceans. However, middle-income Caribbean countries were excluded from concessionary financing for adaptation by the Bretton Woods institutions and development partners, who must now accord special recognition to the peculiar vulnerable reality of all small island States. Their economies, after all, could easily be set back 25 years or more by the onslaught of just one Category 5 hurricane or cyclone. Hurricane Dean recently gave an idea of the destruction that such a storm could cause.
For adequate financing to mitigate such effects, he proposed operationalization of the Adaptation Fund with arrangements that prioritized the needs of small island developing States. In addition, he suggested that small island developing States in the Caribbean gain enhanced access to financing from the Global Environmental Facility, through simplification of application procedures and reduction in transaction costs. He said that the Global Environmental Facility and the Adaptation Fund should also, in general, focus more on the implementation of projects, rather than reports and consultation exercises. In addition, he called for an immediate analysis by the Climate Change Convention on the costs to the small island developing States of a temperature rise of more than one degree Centigrade, greater access by small island developing States to carbon markets to fund forest conservation and greater support for institutional capacity-building.
ABDULLAH SHAHID, Foreign Minister of Maldives, said that, given unprecedented tidal surges, rising ocean temperatures, acidification and other effects, climate change was nothing short of an existential crisis for his beautiful islands. The price of inaction was greater than the cost of mitigation and adaptation. Collective action to respond to climate change must prioritize improved funding for capacity-building, starting with the Adaptation Fund, which should be operationalized in Bali. That Fund should have a management structure that gave fair and adequate representation to small island developing States and least developed countries in the decision-making process, along with mechanisms that ensured both kinds of countries could access those funds with minimal delay and bureaucracy.
ROBERTO DOBLES, Minister of the Environment of Costa Rica, said the problem of climate change went beyond financing, adaptation, mitigation or technology. The core of the problem was national, regional and global governance. If the problem of governance was not addressed, other problems would not be solved. There was a lack of implementation and achievement. New approaches needed to be sought. The global governance was non-functional and fragmented and lacked the capacity to address the challenges.
He said that his country had decided to implement unilaterally a policy based on five points: development of a measurement system; a comprehensive mitigation for greenhouse gas emissions; analysis of vulnerability; development of national capacity, including a rapid transfer of technology; and public awareness. Costa Rica would be carbon neutral by 2021. The private sector had enthusiastically endorsed the plans. Costa Rica had also started a process of reforestation by planting five million trees yearly.
MIGUEL D’ESCOTO BROCKMANN, Presidential Adviser on Foreign Affairs, Nicaragua, said that the new level of awareness on climate change must be accompanied by global action. Small countries such as his did not have the resources to deal with the crisis by themselves. Central America was setting up a carbon fund and the region’s presidents were meeting to develop further strategies this year. The concept of development now had to be completely rethought, with “bread today and hunger tomorrow”.
He said that developing countries were most vulnerable to the climate change threat, while the developed countries, who caused the problems by their voracious use of energy, could not decide what to do. The latter group of countries should drastically change their production and consumption patterns, and pay off their environmental debt to the countries that they had plundered and whom they were now making vulnerable. He emphasized, in particular, the need for support for countries that preserved their forest resources.
OMAR RAMIREZ TEJADA, Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources of Dominican Republic, said a civilization of scientific progress and an increase in well-being in the northern hemisphere had been achieved through intensive use of natural resources and abuse of the environment. Eighty per cent of emissions came from the industrialized world. The island the Dominican Republic shared with Haiti suffered from intense population pressure and environmental degradation. It also suffered yearly from hurricanes, and an increase in the sea temperature was having a terrible impact on the tourism industry. It was difficult to move towards the Millennium Development Goals. Greater support was necessary to enable his country to take the necessary measures to cope with climate change. States must cooperate in a spirit of solidarity in order to preserve the well-being of the planet.
AHIZI AKA DANIEL, Minister of the Environment, Water and Forests of Côte d’Ivoire, said that Africa was among the regions least responsible for climate change, yet most vulnerable to its effects. For that reason, partners from the developed countries must provide support to help Africa mitigate the effects of climate changes and create new economic sectors. Carbon markets, as they existed, were not adequate for those purposes, and must be improved. All financial institutions must be engaged in garnering new investments. Advocacy for a green economy should also be undertaken. His country had embarked on major reforestation initiatives, and he expressed hope that such initiatives would become a priority in the economy of the future.
JORGE VALERO, Deputy Minister of the Popular Power for North America and Multilateral Affairs of Venezuela, said the majority of humanity, namely the poor people in the developing world, was not at all responsible for the global warming and destruction of the planet. The real culprits intended to pursue their policy of irrational exploitation of natural resources aimed at maximizing their profits. In order to reduce the noxious effects of global warming, a radical change in the pattern of economic growth was required.
He said his country did not have any international obligation in greenhouse gases reduction, but was nevertheless implementing bold environmental measures to increase energy efficiency. It had one of the richest biodiversities on Earth. Seventeen per cent of its land had been declared national parks. The country employed clean technologies, such as unleaded gasoline and hydro-powered energy. The South Gas Pipeline between Venezuela and Argentina would contribute to halting the loss of woodlands and facilitate access to a clean, affordable and safe energy source. Under the programme “Mission Tree”, seeds for more than 30 million trees had been sowed in one year. Venezuela also practiced “Bolivarian solidarity” towards other developing countries.
JOSEPH NTAKIRUTIMANA ( Burundi) said that it was important to work within the existing United Nations frameworks to increase efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change. Within that framework, the industrialized countries must take the lead. Given the severe effects on developing countries, it was crucial to increase support for mitigation and adaptation. Adaptation strategies should be better defined, and cooperation between poor countries and wealthy countries should be strengthened to help carry them out.
ROBLE OLHAYE ( Djibouti) said today, the issue of climate change was addressed at the highest level for the first time. If the dire predictions were true, the fear was that Africa would suffer more from climate change’s harmful effects than any other continent. The phenomenon would affect the food supply and raise the spectre of mounting mortality. Many developing countries lacked the resources to undertake effective changes or adaptation. Concerted, long-term adaptation would lead to greater costs. Sustained adequate funding, therefore, was of critical importance. Working together could reduce costs and enhance the ability to achieve sustainable development.
SIRODJIDIN ASLOV ( Tajikistan) said that the environment of his country had been deteriorating through the melting of glaciers, which endangered agriculture. The future development of hydropower was also at risk, and the country was interested in partnerships with developed countries to develop such renewable energy sources. Measures to combat climate change in developing countries must be integrated with all development plans, and comprehensive cooperation must be enhanced with developed countries. Debt forgiveness could be part of that effort. He expressed hope that such joint long-term measures would emerge out of the Bali meeting so that the Earth’s climate could be preserved.
FEKITAMOELOA ‘UTOIKAMANU ( Tonga) said the small island developing States had for decades raised awareness on climate change. For Tonga, climate change was not just an environmental issue, but had deep implications for economic growth, sustainable development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The global funds that had already been established to assist vulnerable States with the cost associated with adaptation and mitigation were not sufficient. The challenge, therefore, was to scale up the level of available funding, as well as to ensure that the most vulnerable countries had easy access to funds.
She said developed countries should make good on commitments made at various international forums. There was also a need for greater cooperation and coordination of public and private sector partnerships at the national, regional and international levels. International businesses should become more involved in climate change issues. One of the ways Governments could encourage investment in cleaner energy was to put a price on CO2 emissions. Other policy options could also include the establishment of a carbon price, either through a tax or through a cap and trade system.
In closing remarks, SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO, President of Indonesia, said that today the international community had moved forward in pursuing the cause of climate stability and had sent a strong message from the highest levels to accelerate preparations for the Bali meeting this coming December. While today’s event was not a part of the negotiation process, the proceedings had been marked by a strong sense of urgency. He had been heartened that the participants had highlighted priority issues within the four thematic areas, even though it was clear that the work could not end here. Indeed, the international community had just embarked on a new and exciting journey. Still, Bali was only two months away. The wider public was highly aware of the meeting and would demand concrete and bold action. “We have no better chance than Bali to act decisively,” he said.
With that in mind, he said he was looking forward to an outcome that contained a bold global decision on addressing climate change in a way that did not significantly jeopardize development efforts. Bali’s success hinged on two issues: deciding what action to take between now until the 2012 sunset date of the Kyoto Protocol; and examining what was envisioned after 2012. Clearly, innovative implementation of the Protocol was necessary. “At the same time, we all know full well that, no matter what we do now, climate change will continue on its remorseless course,” he said. That was why the key words at the heart of the matter were “adaptation” and “mitigation”. That was why Bali must pave the way to the post-Kyoto era.
He called on those planning to attend Bali to adopt a road map to the post-2012 regime that would make it possible to implement realistic and tangible climate solutions. Delegations should focus on reaching consensus on what their common interest were and what their common endeavours should be. Further, the success of the future climate change regime depended on the developing world working in partnership with the developed world. A global strategy would not work if it did not include pro-poor, pro-development measures. The spirit of partnership must guide the negotiation process and must also include the deep involvement of the business sector, civil society and individuals.
Finally, he said that the message coming out of today’s meeting should be clear, and he urged world leaders in attendance to give straight-forward instructions to their respective negotiators when they returned home to conclude the talks at Bali to agree on “concrete and bold action while bearing in mind the plight of the poor.” He was certain that, backed by political will at the highest levels, Government negotiators would be able to devise effective climate change solutions.
Wrapping up the event, Secretary-General BAN said that he was extremely encouraged by the fact that climate change had been constructively discussed at the highest level for the first time in history. “This event has taken us into a new era: today, I heard a clear call from world leaders for a breakthrough on climate change in Bali. And I now believe that we have a major political commitment to achieving that,” he said.
He said that he had also heard the world’s leaders confirm that climate change was indeed happening and was largely caused by humanity. The accounts offered by leaders of the most vulnerable nations, especially small islands, had been particularly telling. They had brought home loud and clear the message that economic and social development could not be sustainable without decisive action on climate change. “Action is possible now, and it makes common sense,” he said, adding that the cost of inaction would far outweigh the cost of early action.
The Secretary-General had also been heartened to hear by a speaker from one developing country that, though he was from one of the poorest nations in the world, in order to achieve development goals, his country’s Government would “never compromise our environment”. Mr. Ban said it was not about choosing between the two, as the only long-term sustainable way was to look after both.
Turning to the thematic plenary on adaptation, he said that the participants had expressed their solidarity with the most vulnerable States, especially small island developing States and least developed countries, those who had contributed least to what was happening, but were bearing the brunt of it. “You pledged to support them in adapting to the inevitable consequences of climate change,” he said, adding that the participants had also demonstrated political will and called for better national and international funding. He added that national adaptation programmes for action had been cited as good starting points, which should be used to address broader adaptation needs.
He said that many had called for increased funding to be made available through mechanisms such as the Adaptation Fund, which should become operational as quickly as possible. Those resources needed to be supplementary to those already committed to helping developing countries move out of poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The participants had also agreed on the need to reduce the risk of disasters and increase the resilience of communities to increasing extreme weather phenomena through systematic planning and capacity-building. That dimension should be integrated into all development planning that countries do, and support should be provided to them by development agencies for doing so.
“To help leverage the synergies between the disaster risk reduction and climate change agendas, I am considering how to strengthen our disaster risk reduction capabilities,” he said. Turning to mitigation, he said there was broad recognition of the need to tackle the root causes of the problem and reverse its effects through decisive action. The current level of effort would not suffice. The concept of a long-term goal had been mentioned, with many countries calling for legally binding targets.
He said frequent references had been made to the need to halve emissions by 2050 and to limit temperature increase to 2° C. More discussion was needed, and that issue would be prominent in the post-Bali negotiating agenda. Any solution had to be equitable and based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and any action requirement had to be commensurate to the respective capabilities. “Undoubtedly, there is a need for much deeper emission reductions by industrialized countries, which must continue to take the lead in this respect,” he said, adding that he had been encouraged that many of the leaders from industrialized countries had expressed their willingness to do so.
Also, many leaders from the developing world had acknowledged that they needed to take action to limit growth in emissions. He said developing countries understandably did not want to compromise their chances of achieving better standards of living for their peoples. They also accepted that a more sustainable energy system with better energy efficiency and planning, for example, could allow for less emission-intensive growth. Further incentives were needed to ensure the active engagement of these countries in a future climate change regime.
Technology would play an essential role in a collective response to climate change, he said, noting that clean technologies were at the heart of sustainable development. Technological solutions existed for promoting the goals of adaptation and mitigation, and effective policy frameworks could greatly accelerate deployment of solutions within the North and South. Deployment remained the key challenge, and sustained efforts would be necessary to overcome technical, economic and policy barriers. Current mechanisms for technology transfer must be dramatically scaled up.
Moreover, he said, investment in research and development held great promise for the future, but sustained and joint efforts from Governments and the private sector were needed to realize that promise. Energy policies must support developing countries’ efforts to eradicate poverty, and international cooperation must be scaled up urgently to help them move in the direction of low-carbon, renewable energy and cleaner fossil fuel technologies.
Acknowledging that fossil fuels would remain essential for the foreseeable future, he urged improving energy efficiency and advancing the feasibility of new technologies, such as carbon capture and storage. Adaptation technologies were essential for increasing resilience to climate change impacts, and developing countries’ access to them should be facilitated.
Turning to financing, he said investment decisions taken today had long-term impacts on emissions for decades to come, and developing countries should be provided with additional resources, particularly to develop their capacity to implement the right mix of public policy instruments. He said some delegates had noted that an enhanced carbon market, based on ambitious emissions reductions in developed countries could provide flexibility that contributed to a cost-effective transition to a low-emission economy. He added that the Clean Development Mechanism should be strengthened, and said speakers had stressed the importance of making the protection of existing forests eligible for carbon finance under the post-2012 regime.
He closed by saying that today’s event was intended to express the political will of world leaders at the highest level to tackle the challenge of climate change through concerted action. It was important to ensure that an agreement on climate change was in force by the end of 2012, and the upcoming Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change should be the starting point for intense negotiations driven by an agreed agenda. Negotiations should be comprehensive and lead to a single multilateral framework.
The international community had come a long way in building understanding this year, he stated. However, more remained to be done. Today’s event had sent a powerful political signal to the world and the Bali Conference that determination existed at the highest level to act decisively.
* *** *