Copenhagen Accord ‘Essential Beginning’ towards First Truly Global Agreement to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Secretary-General Tells General Assembly

21 December 2009

Copenhagen Accord ‘Essential Beginning’ towards First Truly Global Agreement to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Secretary-General Tells General Assembly

21 December 2009
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Copenhagen Accord ‘Essential Beginning’ towards First Truly Global Agreement


to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Secretary-General Tells General Assembly

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the General Assembly on the outcome of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in New York, 21 December:

I returned yesterday afternoon from Copenhagen where I participated in the United Nations Conference on Climate Change and facilitated the final negotiations that led to the Copenhagen Accord.

I thank the Government of Denmark, and Prime Minister [Lars Løkke] Rasmussen, for hosting the Conference and leading the negotiations to a successful conclusion with substantive outcomes under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.

Even though the decisions of the parties do not yet meet the scientific bottom line, they fulfil in large part the benchmarks for success that I laid down at the September 2009 Summit on Climate Change at United Nations Headquarters.

Among the decisions of the Conference, the Copenhagen Accord marks a significant step towards the first truly global agreement that can limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support adaptation for the most vulnerable, and help to establish a new era of environmentally sustainable growth.

I particularly appreciate the participation of the many Heads of States and Government who demonstrated political leadership in making this deal possible.

Since I became Secretary-General, I have worked hard to facilitate progress on climate change.

Among my priorities has been to increase the engagement of Heads of State and Government in climate change negotiations.

In 2007, the High-level Event on Climate Change attracted 80 leaders.

The September 2009 Summit on Climate Change at United Nations Headquarters was attended by more than 100.

Nearly 130 leaders came to Copenhagen.  Without their engagement in the process, we would not have achieved a deal.

It demonstrated that they not only appreciate the urgency of tackling climate change, but that they are prepared to take action.

The Copenhagen Accord also demonstrates that the countries that had previously stayed on the periphery of the Kyoto process are now fully engaged in global climate action.

Through the Accord, countries agreed to work towards a common, long-term goal to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius.

They also agreed to review this commitment in 2015 to take account of new scientific evidence.

Developed countries have committed to establish and implement targets for greenhouse gas emissions.

A number of developing countries, including major emerging economies, have agreed to implement nationally appropriate mitigation actions and communicate their efforts every two years.

Countries also agreed on the importance of acting to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

Another significant feature of the Accord is the agreement to provide comprehensive support to the most vulnerable to cope with climate change.

The deal is backed by money and the means to deliver it.

The Accord provides a mechanism to provide the financial resources for mitigation and adaptation activities in developing countries.

Countries pledged up to $30 billion a year between 2010 and 2012 to be disbursed through the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund.  It will be a total of $30 billion.

Countries also backed the goal of mobilizing $100 billion a year by 2020 for developing countries.

Going forward, we have four tasks.

First, I urge all Governments to formally sign on to the Copenhagen Accord by registering their support through the UNFCCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change].

The faster we have all the signatures, the more momentum we can build.

Second, we need to convert the commitments enshrined in the Copenhagen Accord into a legally binding climate change treaty as soon as possible in 2010.

In the coming months, I will work with world leaders to ensure this will happen.

Third, we must ensure that the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund becomes fully operational as soon as possible.

In this context, I will engage the UN system to immediately start to deliver results to people in need and support countries in their mitigation and adaptation efforts.

We will support climate resilience and clean energy growth in developing countries.

Fourth, I will urge all to implement their commitments as soon as possible, while the legally binding agreement is being developed.

I will also urge countries to increase their level of ambition.

Current mitigation commitments fail to meet the minimum commitment to keep global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

We must close the gap or face serious consequences.

In recent months, we have seen new commitments by many Governments.

We must all look to what more we can do between now and the UN Climate Change Conference in Mexico next year.

We must examine the lessons of the Copenhagen Conference, and consider how to improve the negotiations process.

We need also to encompass the full context of climate change and development in the negotiations, both substantively and institutionally.

Early next year, I will establish a high-level panel on development and climate change to address such issues.

While I am satisfied that we sealed a deal, I am aware that the outcomes of the Copenhagen Conference, including the Copenhagen Accord, did not go as far as some had hoped.

Nonetheless, they represent a beginning -- an essential beginning.

It will take more than this to definitively tackle climate change.

But it is an important step in the right direction.

Thank you for your commitment and support, and thank you very much.

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