In Copenhagen, Secretary-General Tells General Assembly Meeting, Solid Foundation Will Be Laid for Progress, Binding Treaty Reached in 2010

19 November 2009

In Copenhagen, Secretary-General Tells General Assembly Meeting, Solid Foundation Will Be Laid for Progress, Binding Treaty Reached in 2010

19 November 2009
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

In Copenhagen, Secretary-General Tells General Assembly Meeting, Solid Foundation

Will Be Laid for Progress, Binding Treaty Reached in 2010


Following is a text of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the informal meeting of the General Assembly plenary on climate change, in New York today, 19 November:

Yesterday I returned from the Rome Food Summit.

The world has more than enough food, I told delegates.  Yet more than 1 billion people go hungry.  This is unacceptable.

I also emphasized a fundamental fact:  there can be no food security without climate security.

I am grateful for this opportunity to meet with the General Assembly on the eve of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

It is a decisive moment.

Science demands that we act now.  Every country must be part of the solution.

Reading the latest news reports, however, you might think that Copenhagen is destined to be a “disappointment”.

That is wrong.

To the contrary:  we can, and I believe we will, reach a deal in Copenhagen that sets the stage for a binding treaty as soon as possible in 2010.

You can see political momentum building almost daily.

In recent days, United States President [Barack] Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao promised to work together to reach an agreement in Copenhagen that covers all the issues and has immediate operational effect.

Indonesia has announced it will reduce emissions by 26 per cent.

At this week’s European Union summit, Russia indicated that it is ready to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 25 per cent by 2020, if other countries do the same.

Just yesterday, the Republic of Korea announced that it will reduce emissions by 30 per cent by 2020, compared with “business as usual”.  The fact that this commitment is unconditional makes it all the more significant.

Brazil already aims to curb emissions between 38 and 42 per cent by 2020.  In Paris earlier this week, Brazil joined France in calling for an even more ambitious target.

At our climate change summit in September, Japan unveiled a 25 per cent target.  And Norway has pledged a 40 per cent cut.

To this, we must add the existing commitments of the European Union –- as you note, they have promised to cut 20 per cent by 2020 and they have pledged that they would do even more if others follow -– up to 30 per cent.

Taken together, we have ample reason to be positive.

We also see the outlines of agreement shaping up on difficult issues of adaptation, technology and capacity-building.

We see convergence, as well, on reducing emissions from deforestation.

Brazil, for example, has set a deadline to reduce deforestation by 72 per cent by 2017.  This week, the Government reported that deforestation rates fell by 45 per cent last year.

All this is good news.  As I say, it shows a new momentum building by the day.

My message to you today is this:  stay positive and stay engaged; come to Copenhagen, and seal a deal.

This is our moment.

I welcome Danish Prime Minister [Lars Løkke] Rasmussen’s invitation for world leaders to come to Copenhagen and applaud the dozens who already plan to attend.

Only they can reach the agreement the world’s people need and expect.

We look for strong commitments in five areas.

First, we need ambitious mid-term mitigation targets from industrialized countries.

In this, as I’ve said, we can see fresh and impressive new momentum.

Second, we need ambitious mitigation actions by developing countries that go beyond “business as usual”.

Here, too, the signs are encouraging.

Third, we need financing and technology.

Fourth, we need an ambitious adaptation package to assist the most vulnerable.

Everything depends on adequate financing.

In the short term, we look to the developed world to provide roughly $10 billion in fast-track funding annually over the next three years.  With this money, we can jump-start low-emission growth in developing countries, limit deforestation and finance immediate adaptation measures.

Over the medium term, we need to scale up substantially.  Needs have been estimated at $100 billion annually through 2020.

Fifth and finally, we need to create a transparent and equitable governance structure to manage and deploy these resources.  It must give all countries a voice.  And it must provide for stronger monitoring, reporting and verification of both mitigation and financing.

An agreement in Copenhagen that clearly addresses these elements will be a success.

We can, and again, I am confident that we will, lay a solid foundation for moving ahead.  We can, and I believe we will, reach a full and legally binding climate change treaty as soon as possible in 2010.

Needless to say, we at the United Nations will continue our efforts.  We will convene further negotiations.  We can help navigate the maze of funding and investment options, as well as support capacity development and technology assistance for low-carbon growth.  We can promote innovative partnerships, such as UN-REDD, and help balance a wide constellation of interests, concerns and actors.

Climate change affects everything, from the health of the economy to the health of our children, from energy security to international peace and security.

Let us together take a giant step towards a better future, beginning in Copenhagen.

* *** *

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