Secretary-General's joint press encounter with U.S. Senators John Kerry, Richard Lugar and Joe Lieberman [unofficial transcript of Secretary-General's portion only]
Washington, DC, 10 November 2009SG: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate, Senator Kerry. Senator Lugar, Senator Lieberman, thank you for your leadership and initiative. Thank you very much for your invitation to meet with the esteemed members of the Senate. And even though he is not here, I'd like to thank sincerely Senate majority leader, Senator Harry Reid, who could not attend, unfortunately.
In less than a month from now, the leaders of the world will gather in Copenhagen . They must conclude a robust, global agreement that can serve as a foundation for a climate treaty.
From what I heard today, there is great support in the Senate for action on climate change. I am very much encouraged by all your strong support and commitment and leadership with which you will address climate change. But for some, there are lingering doubts about whether we can afford to take action during this hard economic crisis.
Of course, there will be costs associated with tackling climate change. But these costs pale in comparison with the cost of not taking action. Inaction will mean a weakened economic recovery, a loss of global competitiveness, increased global instability and further human suffering. A global agreement on the other hand will unleash investments that will do more than any single other action could do to jumpstart and sustain global economic recovery. The other concern I heard was that whether nations will do their share. I have heard these same concerns in many other different capitals around the world. This is in fact why we need to have an international agreement, which will be comprehensive, binding, equitable and fair.
I also told the senators that the world is not standing still. There are many countries that are moving quickly down a clean energy pathway, creating thousands of new jobs and positioning themselves for growth in the global marketplace.
I thank again the United States government, particularly President Obama who has been taking great initiative and leadership role and such a great commitment to address this climate change bill. I am encouraged by his willingness, which he signalled yesterday, to participate in the Copenhagen meeting, No country is more important than the United States in resolving this climate change issue. All eyes of the world are looking to the United States and to this august body, the U.S. Senate. Copenhagen offers us all an unprecedented opportunity. We must use our time before that historic gathering for maximum effort.
Thank you very much.
Q: Mr. Secretary, some of the senators who will be involved in marking up other portions of the climate change legislation, notably Max Baucus, has said he doesn't expect to pass out of his committee with legislation this year. How would that affect the Copenhagen agreement?
Q: Mr. Secretary, given that Copenhagen may come before a key measure of that provision, which is allocations and tax incentives, how might that affect negotiations in Copenhagen?
SG: I would certainly expect the Senate would take the necessary action. That is what I have encouraged the Senators. I know that every country is grappling with their domestic difficulties. Maybe the Senate will have another very urgent bill to tackle – particularly the health care bill. I would sincerely hope that the Senate will take the necessary action as soon as possible. That is why I am hoping that we will be able to have a very robust, global deal, which can work as a foundation for a legally binding treaty as soon as possible, post Copenhagen.
Q: Secretary-General, I was wondering, at a time when people are talking about a different kind of framework for a global climate agreement in which individual countries, whether it is the United States or major emerging economies will have their own binding commitments and that will be added up into some sort of broad schedule that countries would meet, can you talk about - this has obviously caused a lot of controversy among particularly members of the developing world - whether you are open to this kind of outline, which is one that obviously Australia and South Korea have outlined, and the United States has embraced to some extent. Can that be the foundation for a future climate pact?
SG: What we are working and trying to achieve is that, first of all, developed countries should come out with ambitious mid-term target goals within a range of 25 to 40 percent greenhouse gas reduction, against the level of 1990, by 2020 as recommended by IPCC – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - while developing countries should take nationally appropriate mitigation action. Many countries have come out with ambitious targets already – the European Union and Japan and Norway , and some among even some Annex I countries like my own country, the Republic of Korea , is considering to take absolute emission reduction target by 2020, which is very encouraging.
Now, all these things will have to be agreed in a global agreement, which is comprehensive, equitable, fair and balanced. And to make this possible, the developed countries should provide a substantial amount of financial support and technological support to developing countries so that they can mitigate and adapt. At the end we will have to agree upon this global framework to manage these systems. Those are four important political elements which we are now working very hard to agree. We don't expect that Copenhagen will be the final say here. We will have to agree on these four elements, the political elements, which will be robust and politically binding, which will work as a foundation of a legally binding treaty, as soon as possible, early next year. This is what we are now working on very hard. Now, what I have emphasized to the Senators here is that U.S. leadership is crucial at this time. I am very much encouraged by what the Senators have told me, that even though I understand that the Senate may not be in a position to take concrete action before they come to Copenhagen. As Chairman Kerry said, they may agree on a certain framework which can work as a very strong political message and a sign of political commitment on the part of the United States. That will be quite important and useful for us to get these negotiations.
Thank you very much.