Wednesday, December 12, 2007

UN Head Says World Is Counting On Bali Breakthrough

Dec 12: The world is counting on a breakthrough at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told delegates at the summit, calling the fight against global warming “the moral challenge of our generation.” In a speech delivered on Wednesday morning in the South-East Asian nation, at the opening of the Conference’s "high-level segment," he said that “what the world expects from Bali -- from all of you -- is an agreement to launch negotiations towards a comprehensive climate change agreement.”

Ban underscored the importance of creating a road map to tackle climate change and a timeline to produce a new agreement by 2009 so that it can enter into force after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. He said, “Let us turn the climate crisis into a climate compact." He told the delegates that they have been given a “clear charge” by the world to produce a breakthrough. He said, “Not only are the eyes of the world upon us -- more important, succeeding generations depend on us. We cannot rob our children of their future.”

Climate change affects those least equipped to cope and those least responsible the hardest, the Secretary-General pointed out. He said, “We have an ethical obligation to right this injustice. We have a duty to protect the most vulnerable.” The Secretary-General urged developed countries to continue taking the lead in slashing emissions, while developing nations need incentives to curb their own release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. He said, “Together, we can spur a new era of green economics, an era of truly sustainable development based on clean technology and a low-emission technology. The costs of inaction -- in ecological, human and financial terms -- far exceed the costs of action now. Every UN agency, fund and programme is committed. We are determined to be a part of the answer to climate change.”

According to another UN release, the final details on an innovative fund to help developing countries adapt to climate change were agreed upon by countries attending the Conference, ahead of its high-level portion. The fund is expected to provide $80 million to $300 million annually for adaptation between 2008 and 2012, which is also the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. The fund does not rely on voluntary contributions, but rather on a 2 per cent levy on each Certified Emission Reduction credit issued for Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects in developing countries.

Other issues in Bali that are still unresolved include reducing emissions from deforestation, the implementation of practical adaptation actions and the transfer of clean technologies to developing countries. Countries are also still in discussions over the issue of including emissions reduction targets in a final agreement. Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said the proposed 25-40% range of reductions proposed by 2020 is a "range and not a target." He said, "This range does not represent concrete emission reduction targets for industrialized countries and this conference will not produce an agreement on specific targets per country” Instead, he explained, what the Bali meeting aims to achieve, is to set the wheels in motion for launching a process. The European Union has supported the inclusion of the target while the U.S. has opposed it and countries are still discussing the issue.

Access a release on the Secretary General's speech (
click here). Access the complete speech (click here). Access a UN release on the Fund and the reduction range (click here). Access the UN Climate Change gateway for links to extensive information (click here). Access a speech from Stavros Dimas Member of the European Commission (click here). Access links to the U.S. Department of State briefings and releases at the Conference (click here). Access the UNFCCC COP13/MOP3 website for additional details (click here). Access a December 11 environmental group briefing on the Conference (click here). [*Climate]