United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Poznan, Poland, in the afternoon of Wednesday, 10 December, from New York via a stopover in Frankfurt, Germany, to attend the United Nations Conference on Climate Change.
Upon arrival in Poznan, he was briefed by Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, on how the conference was proceeding.
The Poznan conference, which drew more than 11,600 participants, constitutes the halfway mark in the negotiations on an effective international response to climate change, which is to be agreed in Copenhagen at the end of 2009.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Secretary-General had a working luncheon with his climate change envoys -- Ricardo Lagos, former President of Chile; Festus Mogae, former President of Botswana; Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and former Chair of the World Commission of Environment and Development; and Srgjan Kerim, former President of the United Nations General Assembly’s sixty-second session and former Foreign Minister of The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Throughout the afternoon and early evening, he held a series of bilateral meetings with officials attending the conference, starting with Poland’s Minister of the Environment, Maciej Nowicki, who is also the President of the Fourteenth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP14.
The other meetings the Secretary-General had on Wednesday included Paula Dobriansky, United States Under Secretary of State of Democracy and Global Affairs; Xia Zhenhua, Vice-Minister, State Development and Reform Commission of China; Penny Wong, Australia’s Minister for Climate and Water; Connie Hedegaard, Minister for Climate Change and Energy of Denmark; and Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
On Wednesday evening, he attended an official dinner hosted by the Government of Poland.
He began the day Thursday with a breakfast with representatives of the United Nations agencies attending the conference.
The Secretary-General then spoke at the high-level segment of the United Nations Climate Change Conference and he called for bold, urgent steps to tackle the defining global challenge of our time. (See Press Release SG/SM/11997)
“The next generation is counting on us,” he said. “We must not fail.”
Saying that the coming year is the year of climate change, the Secretary-General spoke of the need for a “green new deal” and for leadership. He said that we look for that leadership from the European Union and from the United States.
The Secretary-General told the Poznan delegates: “Twenty years from now, let our children and grandchildren look back upon this day and say: yes, that is where it began.”
The Secretary-General held a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the meeting throughout the day on Thursday, including with Fredrik Reinfeldt, Prime Minister of Sweden; Lech Kaczyński, President of Poland; and United States Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts); as well as ministers from Brazil, Canada, Malta, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Korea. He also met that day with former United States Vice-President Al Gore.
He also attended a number of side events, such as a meeting with representatives of the Small Island Developing States, with Bharrat Jagdeo, President of Guyana and Apisai Ielemia, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, as well as a ministerial round table for a shared vision on long-term cooperative action.
He also participated in a high-level meeting of members of the Chief Executives Board -- the leaders of the United Nations system.
The Secretary-General held a press conference on Thursday afternoon that was attended by more than 100 journalists from around the world. He said there has been progress made at the climate change talks in Poznan, but much more needs to be done. And there must be no backsliding on previous commitments. He emphasized the need for deep cuts in emissions to stabilize our climate, assistance for developing countries in dealing with mitigation and adaptation, a dramatic increase of the financial and technological resources that can help make this happen, and institutions that can support these efforts. All this must be done and must begin today and not in 2012, he said.
The Secretary-General said he was heartened to see the United States re-engage actively in global climate discussions, and he looks forward to their leadership on the road to Copenhagen. At the same time, he hopes that the European Union will also take a leadership role, and that, at their current summit meeting, they would be able to agree on a climate and energy package which would have a positive impact as we look ahead to the Copenhagen conference.
Asked whether he would convene another meeting of Heads of State on climate change, the Secretary-General said that he is considering convening a summit-level meeting focused on climate change at the time of the General Assembly in September.
In the evening, he attended a dinner hosted by the European Union.
After a breakfast with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and UNFCCC on Friday morning, the Secretary-General flew from Poznan to Geneva, Switzerland.