SMALL ISLAND COUNTRIES SAY CLIMATE CHANGE ALREADY THREATENS ‘VERY EXISTENCE’, URGE IMMEDIATE AID TO VULNERABLE STATES, IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY DEBATE

12 February 2008
GA/10689

SMALL ISLAND COUNTRIES SAY CLIMATE CHANGE ALREADY THREATENS ‘VERY EXISTENCE’, URGE IMMEDIATE AID TO VULNERABLE STATES, IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY DEBATE

12 February 2008
General Assembly
GA/10689
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-second General Assembly

Plenary

80th & 81st Meetings (AM & PM)

SMALL ISLAND COUNTRIES SAY CLIMATE CHANGE ALREADY THREATENS ‘VERY EXISTENCE’,

URGE IMMEDIATE AID TO VULNERABLE STATES, IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY DEBATE

More Than 40 Speakers Address Wide Range of Issues,

Including United Nations Role, Financing for Adaptation, Mitigation

Representatives of island nations and other countries already suffering from the effects of climate change today appealed for urgent action to help them avert or adjust to the worst dangers of the phenomenon, as the General Assembly began its general debate on the second day of a thematic session on the topic.

“Climate change of very damaging proportions, which poses a very serious danger to the very existence of our countries, is already occurring and the longer the international community postpones the necessary greenhouse gas emission cuts, the more adaptation will be required by small island developing States at much greater cost,” the representative of Barbados, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), told participants in the debate entitled “Addressing Climate Change: The United Nations and the World at Work”.

Concerned over the orientation of the Secretary-General’s latest report on the topic, which he said prioritized further negotiations leading to a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol that would expire in 2012, he stressed that the United Nations must redirect itself towards immediate delivery of assistance to vulnerable countries.

Small island developing States, many of their representatives testified, were already experiencing sea-level rise, increasingly severe hurricanes and other extreme weather events, drought, coral bleaching and declining fish stocks.  Ministers from the Sudan, Mozambique and other African States added that their countries were already going through worsened droughts and flooding, accelerated deforestation and loss of arable land.  The representative of Cameroon, on behalf of the African Group, pointed to an increase in vector-borne diseases such as highland malaria, typhoid, cholera and Rift Valley Fever.

Opening the debate, the representative of Antigua and Barbuda, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said climate change already threatened the scant livelihoods of the poor in his island nation and developing countries around the world, and would wipe away all hopes of sustainable development.  Without rapid and tangible efforts by developed countries -- which were responsible for the problem -- climate change would negate all efforts towards sustainable development.

Prior to a unified international architecture, some island States, however, were forming partnerships among themselves, other States and private sources of funding, according to the representative of Grenada, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).  “We cannot wait to implement, we cannot wait to take action, we cannot wait to adapt,” he said.

Patali Champika Ranawaka, Minister for Environment and Natural Resources of Sri Lanka, said that a paradigm shift was needed to forestall the worst effects of climate change.  If the current blame game continued, along with business as usual, at least two more planets would be required to sustain the present growth.

The only option, he said, was to immediately begin to help vulnerable countries adapt and to work together to restore the already degraded environment for future generations.  Those efforts should be harmonized with other development and environmental efforts, and Governments, international organizations and the business sector should work together under a comprehensive approach led by the United Nations.

Representatives of developed countries agreed that swift action was needed to simultaneously help vulnerable countries adapt and to create the unified programmes needed to for the long-term struggle for earth’s future.  Bernard Kouchner, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, said his country had taken decisive action on a national level and it was now time to take decisive action on a global level to prevent the catastrophic outcomes of climate change, under three main principles: responsibility, equity and pragmatism.  Pragmatism required the international community to consider a diverse solution to the problem of climate change.  Options such as carbon taxes, technology-transfers from North to South and South-South partnerships should all be part of the mix.

Janez Podobnik, Minister of the Environment and Spatial Planning of Slovenia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Union was committed to climate stabilization, as well as adaptation in the context of sustainable development under the leadership of the United Nations, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, stronger international environmental governance and a better financing structure for mitigation and adaptation efforts.

Also speaking today were ministers and other environmental officials from Tuvalu, Indonesia, Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, Belgium, Maldives, Ghana, Angola, Haiti, Zambia, Albania, Panama, Morocco, Czech Republic, Egypt, Australia, Italy, Croatia, Viet Nam, Bangladesh (on behalf of the least developed countries), Spain, Greece, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Malaysia and Finland.

Representatives of Algeria (on behalf of the Arab States), Tonga (on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum), China, Brazil, Peru, United States, Iceland and Mexico also spoke.

General Assembly President Kerim Srgjam, of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, made an opening statement.

The Assembly’s thematic debate on climate change will continue at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 13 February.

Background

The General Assembly met today to continue its thematic debate on “Addressing Climate Change:  The United Nations and the World at Work”.  (See Press Release GA/10687 of 11 February for opening day’s discussion.)

Introductory Remarks

President of the General Assembly SERGJAN KERIM (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) said that to move ahead on climate change, it was crucial to clearly set out:  strategic goals; structural architecture; ways of mainstreaming the issue into the development agenda; and coherence within the United Nations system.  Today was an opportunity to get Member States views on all those issues and to maintain the momentum started in Bali.

Statements

JOHN ASHE (Antigua and Barbuda), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that multilateral action to address climate change should remain fully rooted in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Kyoto Protocol and should be fully integrated with the development agenda.  Urgent action was needed, as climate change threatened the livelihoods of the very poor and vulnerable in developing countries around the world.  Developing countries must get technology, planning, capacity-building and other kinds of necessary assistance in a measurable, reportable and verifiable manner, as agreed in the Bali Action Plan. 

The United Nations should play an important role, he said, through promotion of an intellectual property rights (IPR) regime that facilitated the transfer of technology, stronger support to national adaptation activities and fostering partnerships, including south-south cooperation.  Coordination mechanisms within the Organization must, however, be the subject of intergovernmental consideration and decision-making prior to implementation. 

He said the United Nations system should assist, in addition, in the implementation of all commitments of the Climate Change Convention.  The road to agreements in Copenhagen would be a difficult one, and leadership would be critical to ensure a comprehensive global response, within the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.  Without rapid and tangible efforts by developed countries, in that regard, climate change would lead to increased poverty and would negate all efforts at sustainable development.

TAVAU TEII, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Tuvalu, said adaptation was undoubtedly crucial for an extremely vulnerable, small island nation like Tuvalu, whose highest point above sea level was only four metres.  Tuvalu’s International Blueprint on Adaptation, presented at last year’s Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, highlighted several areas where Tuvalu envisaged greater cooperation with the United Nations.  Financial resources for adaptation were completely inadequate.  Last year, Oxfam released a report that suggested that the adaptation needs of developing countries would cost at least $50 billion annually -– a figure higher than the current World Bank estimate of $10.4 billion.  It was important to work together to find the additional funds needed.

Funds for adaptation could be increased by creating a burden sharing mechanism, he said, which could be financed by a levy on international aviation and maritime transport.  Some exceptions would apply, so as not to burden least developed countries and small island developing States.  The United Nations should collaborate with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization to develop such a levy.  He encouraged holding a meeting of senior officers from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Framework Convention this year to facilitate appropriate arrangements for the levy. 

The United Nations and non-governmental organizations should collaborate to develop a comprehensive approach to long-term adaptation action, he said.  A good first step would be a collaborative programme between the Framework Convention secretariat and parties and the International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction, and participating countries.  A climate change adaptation implementation committee should be set up this year under the General Assembly’s auspices to coordinate the programme. 

He called for a special session of the Assembly to pass a resolution to support such a committee as soon as possible.  Further, he proposed setting up an international climate insurance pool to help the most vulnerable communities meet the costs of rebuilding after climate-related disasters.

JANEZ PODOBNIK, Minister of the Environment and Spatial Planning of Slovenia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union would continue to work towards building an international consensus for strong post-2012 action and was implementing and further developing comprehensive community climate change policies.  The European Commission’s climate action and renewable energy legislative package would be instrumental in shaping a response in line with the Union’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 per cent by 2020, relative to 1990 levels.  That legislative package had provisions to reduce Union emissions by as much as 30 per cent, as part of a global agreement, where all developed countries committed to comparable efforts and where all developing countries contributed further.  Transforming Europe into a highly energy-efficient, low-carbon economy would improve energy security and strengthen competitiveness.

It was important to ensure that climate change would be addressed and its relationship to energy security, environment, development, finance and trade further defined and explored at the upcoming dialogue on financing for development and the Hokkaido-Toyako Summit held under the Japanese Group of Eight Presidency, he continued.  Cutting across the four building blocks, identified in Bali, the integration of climate into development plans was crucial.  The Union was committed to promoting climate stabilization of greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere and adaptation in the context of sustainable development. 

Now was the time for the United Nations to strengthen its response to climate change and speak with a united voice, he said.  He fully supported the efforts under the Secretary-General’s leadership and carried out by the Chief Executives Board to achieve a coordinated United Nations approach to climate change.  Member States must support the process through their own actions.  Stronger international environmental governance, and particularly financing of enhanced mitigation and adaptation efforts, would be necessary to implement a post-2012 climate change framework. 

RACHMAT WITOELAR, Minister of the Environment for Indonesia, said the Bali Action Plan was a strategic and important milestone that reflected the common understanding that no country was immune to climate change.  Responding to it required the effort of both developed and developing countries, with developed countries taking the lead.  Political partnerships had contributed to the success achieved in Bali and those partnerships should continue to guide and imbue the negotiation process over the coming two years.  However, while political partnerships were essential, it was important to examine other partnerships that could contribute even more effectively to implementation, such as genuine partnerships that involved all stakeholders and were based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

On a national level, he said Indonesia would continue to work together with all stakeholders.  To that end, a National Action Plan for Climate Change had been launched, which served as an implementation guide for climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts by all Indonesian stakeholders.  On an international level, the United Nations should play the role of bridging development and climate change concerns among stakeholders, as well as addressing the challenges of development and climate change in a coherent and focused manner.  However, the Organization should also consider the possibility of integrating all existing and relevant frameworks, in order to create an effective mechanism to respond to climate change in the future.

PATALI CHAMPIKA RANAWAKA, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources of Sri Lanka, said that island nations, which were highly vulnerable to climate change, were faced with the dual challenge of achieving economic development and responding to the effects of climate change at the same time.  Globally, a critical paradigm shift was needed, even at this late stage, unless huge environmental problems were to be passed to future generations.  If the current blame game continued, along with business as usual, at least two more planets would be required to sustain the present growth.

The only option, therefore, was to work together to restore the already degraded environment and build “environmental capital” for the survival of future generations, he said.  Since the developed countries had become wealthy through high carbon emissions, it was not fair to expect the developing nations to shoulder the full burden of responding to climate change’s impacts.  New agreements needed to take all those elements into account, as the present instruments had not made a significant impact on reversing negative trends.  Those agreements should also be harmonized with other environmental agreements, and collaboration between Governments, international organizations and the business sector should form a comprehensive approach.

JACQUELINE CRAMER, Minister of Spatial Planning and Environment for the Netherlands, said the global fight against climate change required the international community to mobilize human, political and financial resources on a nearly unprecedented scale.  Billions of dollars would be required to place the world on a low-carbon, sustainable energy path and to protect vulnerable populations from the impact of climate change.  The bulk of those extra financial burdens would need to come from the private sector.  For that to happen, Governments should create favourable investment climates, provide the appropriate incentives and work towards a long-term international framework, which was currently lacking.

Public funding remained an important source as well, she added.  Industrialized countries should, at the national level, support and stimulate climate change initiatives by the private sector, non-governmental organizations and society at large.  Industrialized countries should also mobilize additional public funding to assist developing countries in their mitigation and adaptation efforts, as well as assisting them in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  “Industrialized countries have caused the main part of the climate change problem,” she said.  “It is therefore up to the industrialized world to provide the main part of the solution.”  Though there was already a large amount of funding available, it was now time to better harmonize those resources and to provide more additional and predictable public financing for the future.  The United Nations system was uniquely equipped to manage both those challenges.

ANGELO REYES, Secretary of Energy and Head of the Presidential Task Force on Climate Change of the Philippines, aligning with the statement made by Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said his country was responsible for a miniscule amount of the factors that led to climate change, but was highly vulnerable to global warming.  He agreed that a global alliance was needed to address the problem, and scientific research was needed to dissipate the greenhouse gasses that had already formed.  At the same time, mitigation strategies were essential, along with partnerships formed with a universal sense of urgency. 

Because of the dearth of resources in developing countries, measures to counter climate change must be combined with development endeavours, he said.  In the Philippines, social mobilization was an important element.  As a result, energy conservation had made great strides in the country.  In the area of mitigation, it was crucial that the United Nations system, national Governments and the private sector clearly define their responsibilities and commitments.

MACIEJ NOWICKI, Minister of Environment of Poland, said that the December Poznan conference in Poland would be an excellent venue to disseminate best practices and technologies to begin the concrete work of slowing and mitigating climate change.  He invited all Member States and other partners in the effort of meeting this global challenge to attend.

CHARLES MICHEL, Minister for Development Cooperation of Belgium, said it was impossible to separate the climate change and development agendas.  The first victims of climate change were already on the path to development when the dramatic consequences of climate change were first felt.  A global response was needed to that global challenge and the United Nations was in a unique position to lead that response.  However, the United Nations would only be as strong as its Member States.  Thus, all actors should be fully committed and mobilized to provide a coherent and robust response. 

Belgium had created a new fund that would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions on official trips, he said.  A similar global commitment –- even if only symbolic –- would demonstrate a global will for change in the post-Bali climate.  Along the same lines, the United Nations should consider the feasibility of a mechanism that would verify what impact its work and actions had on the climate; for example, what impact a peacekeeping mission would have on the environment or a new development programme.  Such a mechanism would help Member States make the most informed and appropriate decision in regards to climate change and development in the future. 

BERNARD KOUCHNER, Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, said three main principles should guide the action of the international community in regards to climate change:  responsibility, equity and pragmatism.  Responsibility currently resided with global decision-makers, as they must fully engage in a global accord to combat climate change.  For its part, the European Union had agreed to reduce emissions by 20 per cent by 2020.  France had taken that promise a step further and had promised to reduce emissions by 75 per cent by 2050.  The principle of equity could best be promoted by the United Nations, which provided a forum for least developed countries to be heard and which could address the apparent contradictions between development and environmental sustainability.  He added, however, that the primary role of the United Nations on climate change should not prevent other organizations from playing a role as well.

The third main principle, pragmatism, required the international community to consider a diverse solution to the problem of climate change, he continued.  Options such as carbon taxes, technology transfers from north to south, and south-south partnerships should all be considered.  Global action guided by the United Nations and based on the three principles of responsibility, equity and pragmatism would lead to significant steps forward on climate change.  France had taken decisive action on a national level and it was now time to take decisive action on a global level to prevent the catastrophic outcomes of climate change.

AHMED ABDULLAH, Minister of Environment, Energy and Water of Maldives, said, as the world began to focus on solutions to the climate change crisis, time was a luxury it could not longer afford.  The international community should work to build momentum from Bali over the coming year through mobilizing popular support for climate protection by stressing the human dimensions, rather than the scientific dimensions.  It must ensure that United Nations programmes promoted climate change as an instrument to support sustainable development and must initiate a programme of governance reform to build adaptive capacity in the most vulnerable States.  Urgent and ambitious action to tackle climate change would require unprecedented public support.  It was important to realize what was at stake. 

For example, he said, in discussing how climate change would compromise biodiversity, it was important to remember that, hidden behind statistics on species loss, was the face of the fisherman who would lose his livelihood as increasing ocean temperatures destroyed coral and decimated fish stocks.  It was also important, in considering the alarming decline in food production from increased drought and soil erosion, to remember the farmer who would no longer be able to feed his family.  Increased frequency and intensity of storms meant that people lost their homes, while sea-level rises meant that family, community and nationhood bonds were irreversibly broken.  Last November, the Maldives convened a meeting to address those issues and concluded with adoption of the Male’ Declaration on the human dimension of climate change.  The Maldives would continue to pursue that approach during the coming years.  The chronic lack of adaptive capacity, including financial, technical and institutional resources, meant that developing countries were ill-prepared to deal with the impacts.  Operationalizing the Adaptation Fund in Bali was an important beginning, but far more must be done.

LUCIANO DE CASTRO, Minister of the Coordination of Environmental Action of Mozambique, associated himself with the statement made by Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and said that climate change required the strengthening of global collective action under the leadership of the United Nations and the framework of the Climate Change Convention.  For Mozambique, the matter was urgent.  Every year, floods had been causing widespread death and displacement and pushing back efforts to attain the Millennium Development Goals.

In response to that situation, he said his Government had put together its own strategies and structures, but he reiterated his commitment to the Bali Action Plan.  It was only through collective action that the world could meet the enormous challenge that climate change represented.

KWADWO ADJEI-DARKO, Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment of Ghana, aligning himself with the statement of Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that multilateralism under the Climate Change Convention was the surest way to address climate change.  Therefore, the United Nations system should promote the development of national and international policies to support the four building blocks identified by the Bali Action Plan.  United Nations agencies could work with national Governments to mainstream climate change into development planning, as well into national decentralization processes. 

In Ghana, the office of UNDP was raising awareness of climate change and also supporting the Government’s adaptation programmes in seven pilot districts, providing a good example of the manner in which United Nations agencies could assist in those areas.  The United Nations system should also move forward the transfer of technologies through the identification of technological needs, the implementation of joint research and technology transfer demonstration projects and the promotion of north-south and south-south cooperation, among other efforts.

DIEKUMPUNA SITA JOSE, Minister of Urbanism and Environment of Angola, said that, despite the miniscule contribution of African countries to greenhouse gas emissions, the effects of climate change were already visible in their economies.  Many African countries were heavily affected by drought and desertification.  Drastic changes were already hampering food security and strategies to alleviate poverty and ultimately achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  In Bali, the international community made the first step towards reaching a necessary agreement to lower greenhouse gas emissions without prejudice to sustained economic growth.  Now it must work to operationalize the Adaptation Fund and other financing mechanisms, as well as encourage international cooperation to respond to the challenges posed by climate change. 

He fully supported efforts to negotiate and reach a global agreement by the end of 2009, as called for in the Bali road map.  Angola, a post-conflict country for less than six years and engaged in the difficult process of national reconstruction, would contribute by encouraging and mobilizing public- and private-sector actors, non-governmental organizations and local communities to participate in implementing a national strategy prepared in accordance with the Climate Change Convention and the Kyoto Protocol.  Under that national strategy, the Government called upon all partners to adhere to measures and programmes concerning renewable energy, electricity, improved urban and intra-city public transport, road and rail network rehabilitation, forestry reserves, fiscal incentives for clean technology use and the elimination of gas burning associated with oil production, he said.  In order for Angola and other least developed countries to effectively participate in adaptation and mitigation efforts, they needed help in developing systems to analyze the effects of climate change, create local early warning systems for natural disasters, fight desertification and sustain tropical forests, ensure access to clean technologies and improve access to financing.

AHMED NIHAR, Minister of Environment and Urban Development of Sudan, aligned himself with the statements made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, the African Group, the least developed countries and the Arab Group and said that his country had already been feeling the effects of climate change and had drawn up measures for mitigation and adaptation.  He hoped that it would be implemented through the funds established under the Climate Change Convention and through bilateral partners.  Although the Sudan had extremely low carbon emission rates, it had also taken measures for sustainable development, involving the petrol and energy sectors and efforts towards reforestation, among others. 

More disasters and more conflicts over scarce resources would occur unless adequate adaptation was supported in countries that were vulnerable to climate change, he said.  Too many conferences had already been held, it was time for implementation.  The Climate Change Convention was a good framework.  Practical measures were now critical, and obstacles for action must be confronted.  Developed countries, who were the culprits responsible for climate change, must provide adequate and predictable support for adaptation.

JEAN-MARIE CLAUDE GERMAIN, Minister of the Environment for Haiti, said there was no longer any doubt that human actions were having a significant and negative effect on the world’s atmosphere.  Small island developing States were particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.  Now, the only solution was to proportionately reduce carbon gas emissions worldwide, based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.  Due to its geographic location, Haiti has always faced the threat of tropical cyclones, floods and other natural disasters.  However, each year now Haiti and other small island developing States were becoming even more vulnerable.  National funds that were allocated to development projects were now being spent on rebuilding the basic infrastructure of the country after each national disaster.  Such challenges constituted a grave impediment to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals for Haiti, and many other countries in similar positions.

For its part, the Government of Haiti was committed to the creation and implementation of a national action plan on climate change, he said.  It had already created a National Environmental Vulnerability Observatory, which helped reinforce the nation’s capacity to forecast, adapt and react to changes in the region’s climate.  Haiti had also recently entered into a new trilateral agreement with Cuba and the Dominican Republic, which would help preserve the unique biodiversity of the region.  Despite the many climate change challenges ahead, it was important to note the manageability of the problem.  If proper and adequate solutions were provided for the problem, future disasters could be prevented. 

MICHAEL L. KAINGU, Minister of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources for Zambia, said poor countries like Zambia suffered the most from climate change, since they did not have the capacity to face its negative impacts.  Currently, Zambia was experiencing unprecedented flooding, which had already created havoc, displaced people and washed away vital infrastructure, such as bridges and roads.  To address those problems and the greater problem of climate change, his Government had worked with UNDP and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to prepare the ground for the implementation of tools, such as the National Adaptation Programme of Action and the Clean Development Mechanism. 

Zambia had also begun a comprehensive national awareness campaign on climate change, he continued.  That campaign would ensure the national ownership and success of future climate change-related efforts.  A study of the economic impact of climate change in Zambia was also expected to begin in the near future.  The United Nations was the forum for the creation and promotion of critical partnerships that would address climate change, ease the burden of its impact on developing countries, and forestall the possible reversal of developmental gains.  In conclusion, he emphasized the need for early action in response to the threat of climate change and the need to address the root cause of the problem through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

LUFTER XHUVELI, Minister of the Environment, Forests and Water Administration of the Republic of Albania, said climate change was a complex and serious threat that had been caused primarily by unsustainable development, such as unsustainable energy production, industrial development and land use.  While it bore very little responsibility for global greenhouse gas emissions, Albania and other countries in the developing world were being forced to bear the majority of the environmental, social and economic consequences.  Albania’s needs for adaptation to face climate change were significant and diverse, including in such sectors as tourism and agriculture.

Therefore, he continued, the Government of Albania was committed to fulfilling all its obligations under the various United Nations conventions on climate change.  The United Nations had played a catalytic role in leading and supporting climate change mitigation efforts on a national and international level.  With the support of UNDP, Albania had implemented a programme of activities to reduce the growth rate of greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to the negative impacts of climate change, and enable carbon financing mechanisms.  In addition, the Government of Albania was promoting the sustainable growth of its economy through fiscal policies that promoted renewable energy sources and utilized carbon finance mechanisms.  His country now had the potential for a cost-effective reduction of its greenhouse gas emissions and his Government would continue along that path, in order to make its modest contribution to resolving the problems of climate change.

LYDIA CASTRO, Administrator General of the National Authority of the Environment of Panama, said that in her country she could already see the urgency of dealing with climate change, and it was time to act.  All responses came with a cost, however, and she stressed the responsibility of the developed countries, under the principle of shared by differentiated responsibility. 

The international carbon market had raised great hopes for mitigation and adaptation in communities in Panama, she said.  The country was already taking steps on its own, but those really responsible must follow through on their commitments to improve its capacities.  In regard to deforestation, she stressed that great investment was required to stop the damage and to help vulnerable communities adapt to a more sustainable kind of development.

ABDELKBIR ZAHOUD ( Morocco) said the accelerated rate of natural disasters in recent years warranted the utmost concern on the part of the international community.  Substantial resources were required in order to combat climate change globally and, in particular, in African countries that were seeing significant increases in the frequency of droughts and flooding.  The Government of Morocco was firmly committed to meeting that challenge and helping other African countries manage climate change impacts.  In particular, Morocco supported the creation of observatories and early warning systems to help reinforce the capacity of developing countries to react and adapt to diverse natural disasters.  New technologies were required in the fields of agriculture, energy and water resources, in particular, in order to allow for development, while protecting valuable natural resources.

All of those elements in the fight against climate change required an increase in financing for developing countries, he continued.  The United Nations should take a leading role in mobilizing those resources and should also guide the development of coherent and comprehensive strategies for prevention, adaptation and mitigation.  The United Nations also had an important and positive role to play in assisting in the transfer of clean technologies to southern countries.  Such technology transfer would allow poorer countries to realize the Millennium Development Goals on time, while protecting the environment.  The United Nations had already made considerable efforts in terms of mobilizing financial and technological resources and in the designing of effective programmes.  There was, however, much more that needed to be done and Member States should come together to ensure a unified response to the problem of climate change.

JAN DUSIK, First Deputy Minister of the Environment of the Czech Republic, said the Czech Republic was ready to actively participate in the upcoming negotiations to reach a post-Kyoto regime by the end of 2009.  That agreement’s mitigation agenda should reflect the important scientific evidence from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fourth assessment report, and the role of the carbon market as a main mitigation and financial tool ought to be enhanced.  Much work must be done to prepare and implement the adaptation policies and measures of least developed countries and small island developing States, who were particularly vulnerable to climate change.  Enhanced action on technology and transfer in order to support action on mitigation and adaptation was crucial, he said, stressing that all financial instruments under the Climate Change Convention should be made operational as soon as possible. 

He called for strengthening the Climate Change Convention and for avoiding duplication of the United Nations many climate change activities in scientific research, reporting, capacity-building, technology transfer or financing.  Rather, they should complement each other.  An effective framework for greater coherence and coordination in the United Nations system must be developed to achieve that.  It was important to promote a synergistic approach to implementing global multilateral environmental agreements and facilitating activities by their relevant secretariats in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  Donor and recipient countries and institutions should follow an integrated approach and should promote synergies among all financial instruments, including special funds and programmes under the Global Environment Facility, the World Bank and the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, among others. 

RAMZY EZZELDIN RAMZY, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Affairs and International Cooperation of Egypt, said Egypt, particularly its Delta, the coastal Mediterranean and the city of Alexandria, was one of the most vulnerable countries affected by climate change, as illustrated in the fourth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  The outcome of the Bali Conference and its aftermath should be carefully studied, particularly as they concerned the voluntary responsibility of all developing countries in mitigation.  He called for including income level and growth as criteria for climate change and its mitigation and adaptation dimensions.  It was important to address the negotiations concerning mitigation and adaptation, under the Climate Change Convention, in terms of criteria and impact in an equal, balanced way.  The quantitative dimension in mitigation was reflected in terms of emissions volume, while in adaptation it was reflected in terms of the size of a population affected by climate change and the level of damage done to a country.  On the other hand, the qualitative dimension in mitigation was seen in terms of the type of emissions, how to eliminate them and alternative mechanisms to replace fossil fuels, such as new and renewable energy and clean technology.

During the high-level event in New York in September, the Egyptian Foreign Minister asked for a list of the most vulnerable countries affected by climate change, he said, adding that he was pleased that the United Nations was convening a meeting to discuss that issue this year and that island States had also called for such a list last year during the Bali meeting.  He said it was urgent to focus on the serious impact on the populations of countries where deltas were threatened by inundations.  Clean technology was essential to reducing emissions or to responding to issues concerning water resources and agriculture.  The United Nations was involved in developing plans and supporting mechanisms for capacity-building, but finance and technology transfer still remained in the hands of the private sector or organizations not bound by United Nations resolutions, notably the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility and the Adaptation Fund recently established under the Convention on Climate Change.  That did not allow the system to play an effective role. 

HOWARD BAMSEY, Deputy Secretary, Department of Climate Change of Australia, said climate change was a serious global problem that demanded a determined global response.  The Bali Conference demonstrated the international community’s strong will to meet the challenge of climate change.  The United Nations system was central to delivering on that mandate.  However, action at all levels, in all regions and across all sectors was necessary to ensure success.  There were currently significant opportunities for ensuring a more cohesive, system-wide response to climate change, in particular through an efficient and effective United Nations response delivered in collaboration with Member States, the private sector and civil society.  The United Nations was already playing a vital role in leveraging increased investment and financial flows for adaptation and mitigation actions, though it was now important to ensure that the practical, on-the-ground support provided by other United Nations agencies was well coordinated and did not duplicate efforts, or lead to wasted resources.

The efforts of national Governments and the support of United Nations agencies, while critical, would not be sufficient to meet the challenges at hand, he warned.  Joint action with the private sector, non-governmental organizations and local communities was an important tool in the fight against climate change and should not be forgotten.  Recently, there were increasingly positive signs that all stakeholders were indeed responding to the challenge.  Informal and flexible partnerships facilitated quick action and responsiveness to change.  Effective partnerships also allowed new approaches to be tested, mistakes to be made, ideas to be cultivated and then brought to larger forums for a wider application.  Most importantly, they were an opportunity to deepen understanding and to develop capacities, technologies, experiences and the confidence needed to act.

VITTORIO CRAXI, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Italy, supporting the statement made by Slovenia on behalf of the European Union, said the efforts of the international financial institutions should be targeted mainly at expanding the opportunities afforded by policies aiming to safeguard the environment and, in that way, help to drive sustainable development.  The United Nations system, as a whole, should help shape the collective response to climate change, so that it strengthened environmental governance. 

In those efforts, he said the Commission on Sustainable Development was crucial, and his country would continue to promote the strengthening of that body, to ensure that the fight against climate change was an integral component of the fight against poverty.  Climate change was already becoming a grave threat to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.  In that context, he reaffirmed the importance of the many forms of partnerships for sustainable development, which represented a fundamental complement to the traditional governmental approach to environmental protection.

NIKOLA RUZINSKI, State Secretary, Ministry of Environmental Protection, Physical Planning and Construction of Croatia, said the fight against climate change demanded urgent international efforts from both developed and developing countries.  The Bali road map and action plan provided the framework for formal negotiations for a strong and comprehensive agreement on climate change beyond 2012.  Such an agreement should be based on equity and with respect to the common but differentiated responsibilities and capabilities of various stakeholders.  National action was crucial, but should be supported by international cooperation and synergy.  For its part, Croatia had developed a National Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan, which would help the country reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent relative to 1990 by the period 2008-2012.  The Strategy goals would be incorporated into national policies in all sectors, while taking into account the cost-effectiveness of the reduction measures. 

Some categories of mitigation that would be addressed in Croatia’s National Strategy were the increased use of renewable energy sources, reduction measures in industrial processes and waste management, he continued.  Key to the effective reduction of greenhouse gas emissions was the enhanced use of new, advanced technologies and additional investments in future low carbon technologies.  Further scientific research was also necessary to help forecast future climate changes.  Such change had the potential to seriously affect the Adriatic Sea level, which would jeopardize a significant branch of the Croatian economy.  Thus, the next step for Croatia would be the preparation of an impact, vulnerability and adaptation strategy, followed by the definition of measures to be taken in all relevant sectors to mitigate and adapt to the expected harmful effects of climate change.

TRAN THE NGOC, Vice Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Viet Nam, said international cooperation was more critical and necessary than ever to deal with climate change, in order to avoid the serious disruption of national and global socio-economic activities.  Developing countries and the poor suffered the most from the adverse impact of climate change, and Viet Nam was among the top five countries seriously affected by climate change.  International experts had estimated that as many as 20 million Vietnamese, particularly those in the country’s central and southern regions, would be displaced if sea level rose by another one metre.  Viet Nam was already suffering from climate change.  A clear and agreed road map, which took into account the interests of poor countries and communities, was necessary for the post-2012 period.  He expressed hope that a new agreement under the Climate Change Convention would be developed.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions would require immediate and firm action by all developed countries, including greater emissions reduction than had been achieved since the signing of the Kyoto Protocol, he said.  Climate change adaptation was an essential concern and should be addressed in the framework agreement.  That required international support, including increased financing and technology transfer.  The Government of Viet Nam recently created a 2007-2010 action plan to implement the Kyoto Protocol and achieve sustainable development.  The plan aimed to achieve energy efficiency and conservation, as well as reforestation.  Viet Nam was also developing a national target programme to cope with climate change and was actively participating in efforts to reach multilateral agreements on climate change issues.

REZAUL KABIR, Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests of Bangladesh, speaking on behalf of the least developed countries, said the Climate Change Convention was the central multilateral structure under which the negotiation on climate change should take place.  The Bali road map adopted in December would ultimately lead to a post-2012 international agreement on climate change.  That agreement should be economically feasible and fair, especially in regards to the least developed countries, which did not have the necessary resources to meet adaptation needs.  Agreement on the stabilization target within the framework of the Bali Action Plan was now of utmost importance; failure would mean unbearable consequences for developing countries.  Comprehensive adaptation could help many countries minimize economic losses induced by natural disasters, but a lack of adequate infrastructure often undermined adaptation efforts.  International support for adaptation must, therefore, take into account the infrastructure needs of affected countries.

To date, the resources mobilized for the purpose of adaptation were grossly inadequate, he continued.  Most resources earmarked for climate change were being deployed for the clean development mechanism and, thus, little was left for adaptation.  The establishment of the Adaptation Fund was a welcome initiative, but was unfortunately lacking in sufficient funding.  New and innovative means to generate funds was immediately required.  Turning to the question of clean technologies, he said there should be renewed efforts to promote carbon-neutral economic growth and to support the transfer, deployment and diffusion of technologies.  Such knowledge was crucial for least developed countries and the United Nations could play a catalytic role in facilitating that technology transfer.  While building partnerships among countries was crucial, it was also important to forge partnerships among Governments, non-governmental organizations, businesses and other stakeholders.  Efforts to counter the effects of climate change required the concerted engagement of all stakeholders and the leadership and guidance of the United Nations.

ARTURO GONZALO AIZPIRI, Secretary-General for Prevention of Pollution and Climate Change of Spain, said that changes at many levels would be needed to achieve the integration of climate change in all sectors, while prioritizing the most vulnerable areas.  It would also require vast resources, which should be added to the costs of sustainable development, for which Spain had, in the past three years, more than doubled its official development assistance. 

He added that clean development mechanisms would also be a key instrument, particularly for generating low carbon economies with benefits for local communities, thus intensifying economic and technological cooperation.   Spain had already pledged a large investment for the flexibility mechanisms, for that reason.  It was time to move from words to facts, to be brave and generous, to achieve an agreement in 2009 that matched the necessities of the entire planet and those of the poorest countries.

THEODOROS SKYLAKAKIS, Secretary-General for International Economic Relations and Development Cooperation of Greece and Special Representative of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Climate Change, said public-private partnerships could be very useful in carrying out strategies to reduce climate change, particularly in terms of mitigation and technology transfer.  Involving the private sector allowed for the sharing of goals, resources, knowledge and expertise, while greatly diminishing the political risks involved in the trillion dollar investments needed to create a carbon-free global economy, which could only be paid back in the long run.  Paying back that investment required a stable political environment and the contractual obligations of the States involved, created within the context of public-private partnerships. 

Environmental policy was central to the efforts of the Greek Government to address climate change, he said.  Growth and the environment could never be treated separately.  Greece’s Government had, therefore, revised its national programme to reduce greenhouse gases to ensure achievement of European Union and international obligations.  Greece was fully in compliance with its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol and would further intensify efforts, because it considered compliance with Kyoto and European Union policies a moral obligation.  Greece placed importance on renewable energy and a new spatial planning law would help raise production of alternative or green energy to 20 per cent of total energy produced in 2010 and to 30 per cent in 2020.  In the last three years, recycling of the country’s waste had risen from 6 per cent of all waste to 24 per cent.  Further, the Greek Chairmanship of Human Security Network had adopted as its main priority the impact of climate change on human security and in particular on vulnerable population groups, such as women, children and people fleeing their homes due to climate change.  Also, Greece had already earmarked funds for adaptation projects in the least developed countries and small island developing States in Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean, in cooperation with and through relevant regional organizations. 

TEODORA OBRADOVIC GRNCA ROVSKA, Minister of Environment and Physical Planning of The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, said the United Nations was the best setting in which to address the global threat of climate change in a comprehensive, coherent manner and within the context of sustainable development.  Building effective partnerships at all levels was of crucial importance and would create synergy among relevant national and international stakeholders.  On a national level, addressing climate change was one of the key driving forces of the National Strategy for Sustainable Development.  Already, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had established the necessary infrastructure to implement the Clean Development Mechanism at strategic, institutional, legislative and technical levels. 

Her Government was committed to the common goal of stabilizing the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases based on differential responsibilities and preparations for a comprehensive national strategy towards that goal were already under development.  Financing of enhanced mitigation and adaptation efforts through new and innovative means was of the utmost importance.  Permanent sources of financing, both from the national budget and through bilateral and multilateral agreements, were necessary and the Global Environment Facility, through its implementing agencies, should continue to assist her country in developing an integrated approach to climate change response measures and sustainable development planning.

FATIMAH RAYA NASRON (Malaysia), associating her views with the statement made by Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, stressed the importance of partnerships, national environmental ministries and tax incentives in the fight against climate change.  Under the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, she said developed countries must assume a leadership role and developing countries, supported through technological, financial and other assistance, should continue to implement their sustainable development policies.

Mechanisms must be established to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, the transfer of technology and the implementation of pilot adaptation projects in developing countries, she said.  In addition, funding for mitigation and adaptation must be increased and measures at the international level must be made coherent, lest energies be dissipated and resources wasted.  Adaptation must be considered as important as mitigation, since developing countries were already bearing the brunt of the effects of climate change, even though they were the least responsible for it.

YOUCEF YOUSFI ( Algeria), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, emphasized the need for all climate change negotiations to take place under the Climate Change Convention and its Kyoto Protocol.  The ultimate goal of the Convention, to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions, should ensure the security of food production, healthy economic development and should be achieved in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.  Dealing with the potential negative impacts of climate change required international action and solidarity within the context of sustainable development and its three pillars:  social development, economic development and environmental protection.  International action must give special attention to supporting the developing countries that were most vulnerable to climate change and should take into account the interests of developing countries that produce fossil fuels, including oil. 

He reaffirmed the Arab Group’s commitment to the Bali road map as a framework for negations post-2012.  Arab States were working to include policies that addressed climate change at all levels within their national and regional policies for sustainable development, and in harmony with sustainable economic growth and efforts to eradicate poverty.  Arab States also recognized that mitigation programmes would focus on the production and use of cleaner fuels, greater energy efficiency and the diversification of energy sources in accordance with the prevailing economic and social conditions.  The Arab Group called for a greater commitment by developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to increase their support for developing countries in terms of technology transfers, capacity-building and financing.  In closing, he reminded the Assembly that developing countries, including Arab States, were in need of cleaner fossil energy and clean energy technologies, in order to be able to achieve progress and development on the basis of sustainability, while taking into account their primary goal of poverty eradication.

FEKITAMOELOA ‘UTOIKAMANU (Tonga), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Island Forum small island developing States Group, said the Pacific Islands were already experiencing climate change and its impacts, and the outlook for the future was “grim”.  Those countries’ leaders had reiterated their deep concern over the serious and growing threat posed by climate change to the economic, social and environmental well-being of their countries.  The Pacific Plan provided a solid platform for regional cooperation to advance collective positions through the Commission on Sustainable Development and other international forums that advocated the “special case” of small island developing States.  In that regard, she said the SIDS Unit of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs should be strengthened, as a focal point for climate change in New York.

She welcomed guidance from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to mitigate climate change, saying that, with international support, adaptation could succeed.  The regional agencies of Pacific small island developing States had intensified joint programming to advance the Pacific Islands Framework for Action on Climate Change and the Disaster Risk Reduction and Disaster Management Framework for Action to better assist members with adaptation measures to respond to climate change; collect and analyze scientific, social and economic information and traditional knowledge in an appropriate manner; and identify sustainable financing options to support climate change adaptation and mitigation by members.  Pacific small island developing States had limited greenhouse gas emissions and they were now implementing a regional project to remove barriers to renewable energy, which would reduce fossil fuel emissions by an estimated 33 per cent by 2015.  In real terms, that was equivalent to only 2 million tons of carbon dioxide, but Pacific small island developing States had made a commitment to renewable energy in the region.  The United Nations had an important supporting role to ensure that project plans actually succeeded in reducing greenhouse gases. 

CHRISTOPHER HACKETT ( Barbados) spoke on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associated his remarks with the statements made by Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and Grenada on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island Developing States (AOSIS).  “Climate change of very damaging proportions, which poses a very serious danger to the very existence of our countries, is already occurring and the longer the international community postpones the necessary greenhouse gas emission cuts, the more adaptation will be required by small island developing States at much greater cost,” he said.

Concerned over the orientation of the Secretary-General’s report, he said that the first and overriding priority of the United Nations system’s work in climate change should be addressing the needs of those most vulnerable, rather than providing support for further negotiations.  The effectiveness of the system should be assessed by its capacity to actually deliver the required assistance to, and build capacity in, vulnerable countries.

ANGUS FRIDAY ( Grenada), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island Developing States, said partnership was essential for overcoming the challenge of global warming.  Small island developing States alerted the world to the dangers of global warming roughly 20 years ago and, since then, little had changed.  Coastal zones were still being rapidly eroded and hurricanes were only increasing in their ferocity and in the damage they caused.  Moving forward, effective partnerships should be based on the fundamental principle of “no island left behind”, meaning joint action to protect the world’s most vulnerable. 

In the previous year, significant partnerships had been forged among small island developing States and various United Nations agencies, he said.  Further partnerships with island States in the Mediterranean were expected in the near future, including a significant partnership with Greece that would promote urgent action, information sharing and the mainstreaming of adaptation into the very core of economic development.  Funds from those bilateral and multilateral partnerships would work synergistically with the Adaptation Fund and other multilateral, bilateral and private sources of funding.  “We cannot wait to implement, we cannot wait to take action, we cannot wait to adapt,” he said.  Now was the time for the United Nations to embark upon a systematic mechanism for monitoring implementation, thus ensuring success.

CHUNGONG AYAFOR (Cameroon), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said it was imperative that all debates and initiatives aimed at addressing climate change serve to bolster the Climate Change Convention and the Kyoto Protocol.  He enumerated the negative effects that global warming was already having in Africa, including an increase in vector-borne diseases, such as highland malaria, typhoid, cholera and Rift Valley Fever.

African countries were addressing the impact of climate change, he said, but their efforts would not be effective without international support.  The more the international community delayed in supporting adaptation activities in the vulnerable countries, the more costly it would be in the future.  Action was required now.  For that purpose, the Adaptation Fund must be funded adequately and expeditiously, and other instruments, such as the Clean Development Mechanism, must become operational as a priority.  In all areas, the Bali road map must be followed, on a faster track.

YU QINGTAI ( China) said the Bali Conference last December was a turning point in the negotiation process concerning climate change, marking the beginning of a new historic period on international cooperation to respond to that challenge.  But it was only a beginning.  The international community must continue to hold substantive consultations and negotiations to ensure within the next two years a final post-2012 international cooperation agreement on climate change.  Any framework for future arrangements must be firmly based on the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” established by the Convention on Climate Change and its Protocol.  The four building blocks -– mitigation, adaptation, technology and financing -– were important for developing an effective framework for responding to climate change and should be given equal attention.  Developed countries’ policies and measures aimed at emissions reduction should be further strengthened, while developing countries’ concerns over adaptation, technology transfer and financial resources should be addressed in earnest, so that developing countries would have the capacity to better confront climate change challenges. 

An effective response to climate change required broad participation from the international community, he said.  But the effectiveness of participation by the developing countries would, to a significant extent, depend on whether developed countries took substantive action on financial and technological assistance.  Effective mechanisms should be set up as soon as possible to ensure measurable, reportable and verifiable assistance such as financial resources, technology and capacity-building to help developing countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  The United Nations should make full use of the General Assembly and other relevant platforms to hold dialogue on all major climate change issues.  The Organization should also fully use such channels as the Commission on Sustainable Development to encourage partnerships between Governments and the business community, academia and non-governmental organizations.  Further, it should use new resources to promote financial flows and technology transfer to help developing countries make and implement national climate change strategies.  China took climate change very seriously and had adopted several policies to respond to its challenges.

MARKKU NLINIOJA, Ambassador for Climate Change of Finland, said that global cooperation, under a common vision, was the only solution for the multifaceted problem of climate change, with the United Nations system taking a decisive and coherent role.  The strengthened international environmental governance called for in the Bali road map required the Organization to serve as a key forum, bringing together stakeholders from the private and public sectors, as well as civil society.

Of particular concern to Finland, he said, were the serious implications that climate change had for international peace and security.  He also highlighted the problem of deforestation and the need for sustainable land management in all countries to reduce greenhouse gasses.  Finally, he stressed the importance of a gender perspective on climate change, maintaining that women were not only most vulnerable to its effects, they were also potentially powerful agents of change because of their knowledge and responsibilities in natural resource management.

SERGIO SERRA ( Brazil) said the poorest communities in developing countries were the most affected by global warming and the least able to cope with its impact.  A global response was required, based on common but differentiated responsibilities.  For its part, Brazil was committed to “nationally appropriate actions on mitigation of climate change”, according to respective capabilities.  The engagement of a vast array of stakeholders from civil society and the private sector was welcomed, but should not replace the central role of States and international organizations.  A global low-carbon economy could be reached through the establishment of key partnerships between diverse actors.  One such partnership was the ethanol programme developed by Brazil and involving both the Government and private sector.  By extensively using ethanol, Brazil had significantly reduced its emissions from fossil fuels, without affecting the production of staple foods. 

Despite Brazil’s success and the proven benefits of ethanol production, he said developed countries had placed a number of barriers to biofuels from developing countries, while spending billions of dollars on subsidies for inefficient producers.  Such measures distorted markets, increased energy prices and were inconsistent with climate concerns.  Turning to the Climate Change Convention and its Kyoto Protocol, he stressed that there was no expiration date on the Kyoto Protocol and that the Bali Action Plan reiterated the validity and importance of the current climate change instruments and multilateral regime.  The international community should concentrate its efforts on implementing that action plan and its four pillars of mitigation, adaptation, financing and technology development.  The United Nations had a leading role to play in responding to climate change and its actions should be guided by Member States, ensure national ownership, take into account the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, and should be based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and capabilities.

ANTONIA GARCIA REVILLA, Assistant Secretary-General of Multilateral Affairs of Peru, said it was crucial to urgently establish even more ambitious goals to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.  Developing countries must strengthen leadership.  Developing countries were the most severely affected by climate change.  It was important to mainstream mitigation and adaptation policies into the international development agenda.  The United Nations was in a privileged position to promote initiatives that would allow for development and for developing countries’ economies to grow in a sustainable way.  Integrated adaptation and mitigation policies were required, such as in water resource management and risk reduction.  Sectoral adaptation plans should be followed by an integrated approach to protect ecological infrastructure and biodiversity.  That required the development of capacities and technology that the system would be able to mobilize.

While acknowledging the United Nations efforts to adopt a more integrated approach to climate change, he said financial resources were still meagre, given the magnitude of the problem.  New and additional resources were needed.  The ability of developing countries to meet their commitments depended on the willingness and ability of developed countries to transfer technology.  In terms of mitigation, he stressed the need to promote low-carbon economic growth that would enable developing countries to meet their poverty eradication priorities.  Environmentally sustainable growth strategies were needed, as was better access to clean and sustainable technologies.  United Nations agencies, programmes and funds could support funding for ending global greenhouse gas emissions.  The United Nations system had a fundamental role to perform with a view to meeting and complying with the goals of the Convention on Climate Change.

ALEJANDRO WOLFF ( United States) said collaboration, partnership and cooperation should be at the heart of the global response to climate change.  For its part, the United States was fully committed to the road map developed in Bali and was equally committed to an international funding mechanism created to develop and explore clean technologies.  However, slowing, stopping and eventually reversing greenhouse gas emissions would require the commitment of every major economy.  The National Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 demonstrated the commitment of the United States to improving vehicle fuel economy, expanding the production of renewable fuels, and confronting the challenge of global climate change.  By 2030, it had the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 6 billion tonnes. 

Proving the efficacy of low-carbon technology was also one of his Government’s top priorities, as well as the development of clean coal technologies, he said.  The United States proposal for an International Clean Technology Fund would stimulate private sector investment in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Along the same line, obstacles to the global use of advanced clean technologies should be removed, including tariff and non-tariff barriers.  Carbon emission reduction through conservation and through the reduction in the use of natural resources was also fully supported.  Turning to the United Nations, he lauded the Organization’s vow to achieve carbon-neutrality, but urged it to find outside sources of funding for the purchase of carbon credits or other costs incurred in achieving the goal, so as not to divert critical funding away from its agencies.

HJALMAR HANNESSON ( Iceland) said the difference in views on approaches to address the threat of worldwide climate change was understandable.  It reflected gaps in social conditions and industrial development between the world’s wealthiest and poorest nations.  The most vulnerable, the small island developing States and least developed countries, were least responsible for causing climate change.  Securing a safe future for mankind was the common responsibility of all nations.  The economic costs of doing so must be shared according to means.  Financing of climate change adaptation and investments in mitigating technologies must not undermine development cooperation aimed at attaining the Millennium Development Goals.  He welcomed the initiatives of groups of world leaders, such as the Group of Eight and the Major Economies’ Meetings on Energy Security and Climate Change as valuable contributions to a common binding United Nations agreement.  The Climate Change Convention was the only viable forum for reaching and enforcing a worldwide consensus on action to address climate change comprehensively.

The United Nations role in supporting and financing the necessary action was vital, he said.  Technology transfer was crucial to addressing climate change.  Governments should facilitate private-sector investments in clean energy technology in developing countries and countries in transition, especially with legislation providing security of investments and by avoiding burdening new technologies with undue taxation.  It was estimated that, by the year 2030, up to $7 trillion worth of clean energy investments would have been made, paving the way for a carbon neutral future.  The United Nations must ensure that new investments and technological know-how reached countries that needed them the most.  More than 80 per cent of Iceland’s energy was renewable.  Iceland had the highest ratio of renewable energy in the world and was at the forefront of developing advanced technology to harvest clean and safe renewable energy resources.  Geothermal power was potentially accessible, in some way, in more than 90 countries.  Technological transfer of geothermal energy could be helpful and should be expanded in years to come.

JUAN MANUEL GOMEZ-ROBLEDO, Under-Secretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights of Mexico, said that the adoption of the Bali road map in December was a remarkable achievement, which showed that the international community understood the need to move forward in a united way.  Though States held the fundamental responsibility for action, other stakeholders had the duty to act as well.  Indeed, partnerships across various sectors were essential to the success of climate change policies.  Mexico had intensified its mitigation policies through its National Strategy on Climate Change and was preparing a national study and special programme that would identify the economic implications of climate change and the appropriate adaptation and mitigation measures as well.

He stressed the need to avoid a new north-south divide, built with “walls of misunderstanding and distrust”.  One of the main obstacles to developing national policies was the high financial cost required and, for many developing countries like Mexico, it was necessary to have the support of international financial mechanisms to help build technical and institutional capacities.  To date, the States that were capable of assisting in transferring technologies and financing had not yet done so sufficiently.  Access to technology should not be interpreted as lifting restrictions on intellectual property rights, but rather as an opportunity for joint work that recognized the rights of developers, while facilitating access and use by developing countries.  New financing mechanisms that went beyond the traditional perspective of official assistance were also necessary.  To that end, Mexico had proposed a multinational fund with clear and inclusive contribution formulas.  In conclusion, he said that negotiations for a new climate regime should be balanced, fair and work in conjunction with the national efforts of developing countries.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.