United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon travelled to Doha, Qatar, arriving on Monday, 3 December, to attend the eighteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Arriving in Doha late on Monday, he was briefed on the status of climate change talks by Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The following morning, the Secretary-General met with a number of environment and climate change officials from key countries and regions around the world, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Russian Federation, Singapore, the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, the European Union and the BASIC group, the last of which includes Brazil, South Africa, India and China. He discussed with all the officials the importance of agreement on a second extension period of the Kyoto Protocol and progress on climate change financing.
On the latter issue, the Secretary-General attended a high-level private brainstorming session on climate financing, in which he called on participants to mobilize climate finance, starting next year, so that we can reach the 2020 target of mobilizing $100 billion a year by 2020.
He also opened a meeting of the United Nations Chief Executives Board on how the United Nations system can deliver as one on climate change. He noted that all 29 organizations in the Chief Executives Board had pledged themselves to a framework for action on climate change. (See Press Release SG/SM/14698.)
In the afternoon, the Secretary-General addressed the opening of the high-level segment of COP18, telling the gathered leaders and delegations that we should be under no illusion that climate change is a crisis that threatens us all — our economies, our security and our future well-being. The abnormal is the new normal, he said, pointing to rising sea levels, melting ice caps and natural disasters around the world. (See Press Release SG/SM/14696.)
The Secretary-General said that we must take ownership, adding that we are collectively the problem. Greenhouse gas emissions are the highest they have ever been.
He said that policies and actions to take us into a sustainable, clean energy future are being pursued more broadly and with greater determination but the pace and scale of action are still not yet enough.
The Secretary-General urged Governments to move forward on the adoption of a ratifiable second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, and to progress on long-term climate finance; effective institutions to support mitigation and adaptation by developing countries; and an unambiguous demonstration that negotiations on a global and legally binding instrument remain on track.
Following the opening of the high-level segment, the Secretary-General and Ms. Figueres held a joint press conference in which the Secretary-General said that climate change is a growing crisis. The window of opportunity to avoid dangerous warming is closing. It is not too late, he said, but our actions need to match the scale of the challenge.
Governments have agreed to keep global temperatures from rising more than two degrees centigrade above preindustrial levels, the Secretary-General added. This is technically possible and it is financially viable. What is needed is the political will.
At a high-level side event entitled “Momentum for Change”, hosted by Ms. Figueres, the Secretary-General urged all stakeholders to make difficult compromises in climate negotiations. (See Press Release SG/SM/14697.)
The Secretary-General that evening attended a high-level dinner hosted by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. He had a meeting on Wednesday morning with the Emir, in which they discussed the progress of the climate change talks.
They discussed developments under way in the Arab world, in particular the situations in Syria and Libya, and the Middle East peace process. The Secretary-General stressed that a political solution was vital for the Syrian people and must be sought to avoid further conflict.
Following that meeting, he addressed a round table of ministers attending the climate change talks in Doha, telling them that climate change is not an environment issue for environment ministers, but one for all areas of government and policymaking — finance, energy, transport, foreign relations. (See Press Release SG/SM/14700.)
He looked at the PaperSmart initiative taking place at Doha, which reduced the amount of paper put out for the Conference by using the Internet to disseminate more of the Conference documents, and praised the United Nations staff working on the PaperSmart desks.
After that, the Secretary-General spoke to business leaders gathered in Doha for a Global Compact side event, telling them that they could contribute to long-term finance to deal with climate change, including the Green Climate Fund.
The Secretary-General also met with other key environment officials, including from the United States, Poland and the Alliance of Small Island States before leaving Doha and travelling to Kuwait.