Press Conference by Director of Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team

12 October 2009

Press Conference by Director of Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team

12 October 2009
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference by Director of Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team

While “much-needed” progress had been made during the just-concluded ten-day negotiating session in Bangkok towards an agreement at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference, the Director of the Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team today said there was still a disconnect between what national leaders said in summit meetings and what their negotiators offered.

Janos Pasztor told correspondents at Headquarters that at the Secretary-General’s 22 September Summit on Climate Change in New York, 101 Heads of State and 163 Government officials had signalled their desire to achieve an agreed outcome at the Climate Change Conference to be held in Copenhagen from 7 to 18 December.  In the negotiations leading up to Copenhagen, progress had been made in key areas such as adaptation, technology, capacity-building and reducing emissions from deforestation, and developing countries were moving forward in a “spirit of pragmatic cooperation”. 

Yet little progress had been made on core political issues such as midterm emission reduction targets for industrialized countries, Mr. Pasztor said, and clarity was till lacking on the issue of finances that developing countries would need in order to undertake additional actions in emission growth and adaptation.

On his most recent trip to Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland, which coincided with the Bangkok negotiating conference, the Secretary-General had met with, among others, Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen and had discussed Denmark’s preparations for the Copenhagen summit, formally known as the Fifteenth Conference of State Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-15).  As President of the Conference, Denmark was taking a lead on all substantive content and on how to proceed.  As the representative of all 192 United Nations Member States, the Secretary-General had reaffirmed his commitment to serve as a neutral broker in support of the Danish-led preparations.

Noting that there were only five negotiating days left until Copenhagen -- 2-6 November in Barcelona, Spain -- Mr. Pasztor said countries must maintain the positive momentum of the New York summit and translate that into concrete proposals.  The Secretary-General had encouraged all parties to negotiate in a “spirit of flexibility and enlightened self-interest”, focusing on the benefits that a fair, ambitious and comprehensive global deal would provide for their own people, for their children and future generations, and for the planet.

Answering correspondents’ questions, Mr. Pasztor said the “disconnect” between words and proposed concrete action was partly due to the short amount of time left between now and the Copenhagen conference.  Since the positive momentum generated at the September summit, national leaders had to consider their responses and must come up with solutions which had to be translated into guidance for the negotiators. “This disconnect will have to disappear,” he added.

Asked what a possible outcome to the conference should include, he said the Secretary-General had said that an agreement should include five elements:  all participating countries should be part of the deal; ambitious agreements should be reached on emission reduction targets and target dates; agreement on additional mitigation measures developing countries were prepared to undertake if technology and finance were made available; adaptation agreements; and financing for adaptation had to be made available and agreement had to be reached on amount and governance of that financing.  The real success of the deal would be in how much in each of the areas would be achieved.

Responding to a question about reports that a dispute had arisen in Bangkok about whether the Kyoto Protocol should be amended or if a whole new arrangement was needed, he said that at the moment, the only hard targets available were contained in the Kyoto Protocol, and its first commitment period on emission reduction on the part of developed countries would expire in 2012. 

Right now, he continued, there were negotiations on two tracks:  one to continue with the Kyoto protocol and one to make arrangements on “long-term cooperative actions”.  Some countries felt that on the second track, similar targets for all countries could be set.  Developing countries were keen to make sure there were hard targets for developed countries and were adamant that the Kyoto Protocol, including the targets, must be maintained.

At the same time, he stressed that there had been positive developments in Bangkok, including with the announcement of ambitious new targets by Norway.  In addition, the new Government of Japan had earlier announced ambitious action.  On the whole, however, developed countries’ emissions where not where they needed to be.  According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in those countries should be between 25 and 40 per cent, but they were now below 20 per cent.

In response to another question, Mr. Pasztor said that an extension of Copenhagen beyond the planned dates was technically possible.  It had happened before that participants in United Nations meetings had decided to “stop the clock” and continue negotiations.  It remained to be seen, however, if it was politically possible to maintain the momentum that had been generated by the September summit with the level of engagement the 101 world leaders had expressed.

Asked about the Secretary-General’s attendance of the Telecom 2009 Conference of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in Geneva, he said the United Nations Chief had told participating CEO’s from the telecommunications industry that while there was concern that the sector was a growing contributor to emissions, it could also be part of the solution.  There had been positive feedback from those business leaders, and the telecom industry had recognized that it must do more to reduce its emissions.

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