‘Time for Delays and Half-Measures Is Over’, Says Secretary-General, Calling G-8 Climate Change Commitments ‘Not Sufficient’, but Food Security Pledge Welcome

9 July 2009

‘Time for Delays and Half-Measures Is Over’, Says Secretary-General, Calling G-8 Climate Change Commitments ‘Not Sufficient’, but Food Security Pledge Welcome

9 July 2009
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York





The commitments expressed here today at the G-8 and Major Economies Forum (MEF) Leader’s meeting, while welcome, are not sufficient.  Much more needs to be done if Governments are to seal the deal on a new climate agreement in December in Copenhagen.

The time for delays and half-measures is over.  The personal leadership of every Head of State or Government is needed to seize this moment to protect people and the planet from one of the most serious challenges ever to confront humanity.

That is why the Secretary-General will convene a global Summit on Climate Change on 22 September in New York.   

The United Nations brings all actors to the table and serves as an honest broker in resolving key issues.  The climate crisis, however, cannot be solved by the United Nations alone.  It is national political leaders who must act.

The countries represented at L’Aquila are responsible for more than 80 per cent of global emissions, and that is why they bear special responsibility for finding a solution to the political impasse.  If they fail to act this year, they will have squandered a unique historical opportunity that may not come again. 

Leaders face domestic political pressures.  But the science demands we act urgently as a global community.  We need to keep the global temperature increase within 2 degrees centigrade, and set a global goal of 50 per cent emission reduction by 2050 in order to do so.

The Secretary-General welcomes the agreement by the G-8 on a long-term goal to reduce emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.  For this to be credible, however, we need ambitious midterm targets, and clear baselines.  In order to achieve such a global goal, developed countries must lead by example in making firm commitments to reduce their emissions by 2020 on the order of the 25-40 per cent below 1990 levels that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) tells us are required.  It is disappointing to note that thus far, the midterm emission targets announced by developed countries in the Major Economies Forum are not in this range.  

Every country must do its part, based on the principle of equity.  Developing countries also need to contribute by undertaking national efforts to mitigate emissions that are nationally appropriate, measurable, reportable and verifiable. 

Developing countries need funding and technology assistance.  Funding is also needed to assist vulnerable developing countries adapt to the harmful effects of climate change. 

We stand at a historical crossroads.  Business as usual is no longer viable. 

Two other pressing global challenges that leaders need to address are:  food insecurity and the H1N1 influenza pandemic.

Contrary to popular perception that the food crisis is “over”, food insecurity stalks the globe, with over a billion people going to bed hungry every night.  This is unacceptable, and unsustainable.

We must take a comprehensive approach to the problem as outlined by the United Nations System High-Level Task Force on Global Food Security Crisis.  This means not only addressing the needs of people who are hungry today, but also making the investments in agriculture that will allow us to avoid this situation in the future.

In this context the G-8’s pledge of $15 billion over the next three years is welcome.  Now we need to deliver on that pledge, and work together to support national action plans, in an integrated manner. 

The H1N1 pandemic is starting to accelerate in a disturbing way.   We are receiving reports of overloaded health systems in some southern hemisphere countries.  We have a small window of opportunity to help poor countries access what they need to get ready for the virus.  The G-8 leaders need to commit to helping these countries.  This could require a commitment of at least $1 billion.

* *** *

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