Press Conference on Climate Talks at G-8 Summit, 22 September High-Level Climate Change Event at Headquarters

15 July 2009

Press Conference on Climate Talks at G-8 Summit, 22 September High-Level Climate Change Event at Headquarters

15 July 2009
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York





One hundred and forty-four days before the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, countries still had some “formidable differences” to bridge in order to “seal a deal”, Janos Pasztor, Director of the Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team, said at Headquarters today.

At a press conference on the results of the recent meeting of the Group of Eight (G-8) and the Major Economies Forum (MEF) in Italy, Mr. Pasztor said the 17 leaders attending had strongly endorsed the need for a successful outcome in Copenhagen and recognized the scientific view that the global average temperature ought not to rise more than 2° C above pre-industrial levels.  The participating countries had never before endorsed that critically important goal.

He said the MEF meeting had agreed to establish a global partnership to drive transformational low-carbon, climate-friendly technologies, and promised to increase dramatically the necessary investments in research and development, with a view to doubling them by 2015.  Given the need for a significant scaling up of financial resources for both mitigation and adaptation, the MEF countries had also agreed to consider a “Green Fund” to that end.

Mr. Pasztor said that, while having welcomed the G-8 agreement on a long-term goal of an 80 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050, the Secretary-General had cautioned that there was a need for ambitious mid-term targets and clear baselines.  To that end, developed countries must reduce emissions by 25 to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, a requirement set forth by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  The Secretary-General was disappointed that the mid-term emission targets announced by developed countries in MEF were not in that range.

He said the Secretary-General expected the high-level climate change event on 22 September to lay a strong and necessary foundation of trust among leaders.  The Summit would provide a platform for Heads of State and Government to consider the key political issues to be addressed during negotiations leading up to success in Copenhagen.  The focus would be on interactive dialogue between Heads of State and Government during round table discussions.  National statements would be delivered via pre-recorded video messages.

Asked about the format of the meeting, he said that, after an opening plenary (open to the press), the summit would break up into four small round table sessions in the morning and four in the afternoon (all closed to the press) co-chaired by two Heads of State or Government.  Participants could be accompanied by a single adviser.  The closing plenary (open to the press) would hear summaries of the round table sessions.  There would be no negotiated outcome, but the Secretary-General, as Chair of the summit, would provide a summary.  In order to keep the focus on the discussions, no side events would be organized.

He said the summit’s objective was to arrive at a political vision, provide direction for the negotiations and provide the impetus to move them forward.  President Barack Obama of the United States had been invited, but his attendance had not been confirmed.  However, indications were that participation would be high.

Responding to another question, he said the question of whether the Presidents of the United States and China would participate in the same round table had not yet been determined.  The event was not organized to facilitate continued bilateral climate change discussions between the two countries, although there would be opportunities for bilateral interaction for all leaders.

Asked what the United Nations was doing to get developing countries to implement mid-term goals, even though countries like India and China had stated that they were awaiting action by the developed countries, he emphasized that the Secretary-General had stressed all along that all countries must make an effort on the basis of common but differentiated responsibilities.  However, developed countries must be more ambitious in their emission targets and produce the financial and technological resources that developing countries needed.

It was a package on which everybody would need to move, he stressed, adding that it had many different elements, some of them relating to the emission mitigation targets of developed countries, mitigation actions appropriate for developing countries, finance and technology.  None of those elements was more important than the others.  It was a whole package that would make the deal possible.  The negotiations were focused on all those elements, and the objective in Copenhagen would be to have a legally binding package on what countries were prepared to do.

In response to a question about a statement by a United States official to the effect that agreement in Copenhagen would be impossible, Mr. Pasztor reiterated that, while agreement would not be easy, the Secretary-General would do everything he could to ensure that agreement was reached.  “The globe requires that we deliver,” he added.

He went on to say that the newly formed International Renewable Energy Agency, to be headquartered in Abu Dhabi, would be a useful agency, but would have no particular role in the Copenhagen negotiations process, which would be among Government leaders.  That institution’s role was to provide data and information, and to spur the development of new technologies.

Asked about the creation of a panel of experts to advise the Secretary-General, he said that an advisory group on energy and climate change chaired by the Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) was looking at the contents of what was being negotiated for Copenhagen and the potential implementation challenges of the outcome.  The panel would include private sector chief executives, as well as some principals of United Nations agencies.  The chief executives had been invited in their personal capacities rather than on the basis of their corporate environmental record.  It had been agreed that their role would not involve speaking to the media, but advising the Secretary-General.

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