Tuesday, July 31, 2007

First-Ever UN General Assembly Exclusive Meeting On Climate Change

Jul 31: In New York, the United Nations General Assembly is considering how to translate the growing scientific consensus on climate change into a broad political consensus for action during a two-day thematic debate that began today (July 31, 2007). The debate, which features prominent scientists, business leaders and United Nations officials, is expected to raise awareness and momentum for action on climate change, in preparation for the Secretary-General’s high-level event in September and for the climate change conference that will take place in Bali this December.

Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa of Bahrain, President of the General Assembly said, “This debate is a testimony to the political importance of addressing climate change. We will need political action if we are to protect our environment, secure our planet and safeguard our future, for our children and generations to come. This is one of the greatest challenges of our time.” The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has reported this year that the world’s temperature warmed by 0.74°C during the last century and that it is likely to rise 3°C in this century, unless measures are taken to reduce the rate of warming. The Panel found that the evidence that warming was occurring is unequivocal and that it is due to human activities.

The two-day meeting is featuring interactive panel discussions with climate change experts, a plenary debate with statements on national strategies and international commitments by Member States, as well as addresses by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and two of his Special Envoys on Climate Change, former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos and former Korean Foreign Minister Han Seung-soo. The debate marks the first time the General Assembly has ever devoted a session exclusively to a discussion of climate change in plenary.

The debate is being made carbon neutral by offsetting emissions from the air travel to bring experts to the debate and the entire carbon-dioxide emissions of the United Nations Headquarters, by making investments in a biomass fuel project in Kenya. The fuel switch project in Kenya supports the use of agricultural waste instead of traditional fossil fuels to power a crude palm oil refinery, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating new economic opportunities for local farmers.

Access a UN release (click here). Access the UN website for the Informal Thematic Debate Climate Change as a Global Challenge (click here). Access links to news and live and archived webcasts of the meeting (click here). Access various media reports of the meeting (click here). [*Climate]