Thursday, December 11, 2008

U.N.'s Ban Ki-moon: "The World Is Watching Us."

Dec 11: The important High-Level Segment (CMP 4), of the Poznań, Poland Climate Change Conference [See WIMS 12/8/08] of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) takes place today and tomorrow -- December 11 and 12. At a press briefing on December 10, a day before the High-Level Segment UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer said that delegates had managed to resolve a number of outstanding issues.

He said two issues still had to be resolved. The first, the Adaptation Fund, was close to finalization, with the question of direct access by developing countries seen as very important. The second outstanding issue was whether Carbon Capture and Storage should be allowed as a pilot or definite decision under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). He added that it may take a little time for the Adaptation Fund to become fully operational, since the Fund is filled from a levy on credits obtained via the CDM, which would first have to be sold on the market. De Boer indicated that, "The decks were now cleared for Ministers to hold a round-table discussion on a shared vision for long-term cooperative action." He said he hoped the Ministers action "would send a strong signal on cooperation and willingness to work together in order to meet the Copenhagen deadline for a strengthened agreement."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is addressing the High-Level segment and appealing to the Ministers and other top officials from nearly 200 nations to not let the food, financial and other current crises dissuade them from taking urgent action on climate change. The CMP 4 meeting caps off the two-week Poznan conference, which marks the half-way point in efforts to reach agreement on a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol, the legally binding regime for reducing greenhouse gas emissions whose first commitment period ends in 2012. The conference has drawn some 11,600 participants.

The Secretary-General said, "The world is watching us. The next generation is counting on us. We must not fail. Together, we face two crises: climate change and the global economy. But these crises present us with a great opportunity -- an opportunity to address both challenges simultaneously. . . We need a Green New Deal."

He continued, "What we need, today, is leadership -- leadership by you. We look for that leadership from the European Union. The decisions currently being made by European leaders in Brussels are at great consequence for the whole world. We look for leadership from the United States. It is therefore encouraging to hear about the incoming administration’s plan to put alternative energy, environmentalism and climate change at the very center of America’s definition of national security, economic recovery, and prosperity. . .

"Here in Poznan, we have three challenges: First, is a work-plan for next year’s negotiations. I am glad that an agreement has already been achieved. Second, you need to sketch out the critical elements of a long-term vision. We need a basic framework for cooperative action starting today, not in 2012. . . Third, we must re-commit ourselves to the urgency of our cause. This requires leadership -- your leadership. . . There can be no backsliding on our commitments to a future of low-carbon emissions. We must break free of entrenched positions -- who is to blame, who must act first. . . It is fitting that we meet in Poland, the land of Copernicus. Let us launch a new Copernican revolution -- a revolution in thinking, a revolution in action. Let us save ourselves from catastrophe and usher in a truly sustainable world. . ."

De Boer said on December 11 in a statement to the High-Level Ministers, "Distrust and suspicion have haunted these talks for much too long. You have decided to advance. This is your opportunity to move on. To tell the world how you will deliver together. To tell the world how you will reach out to each other on finance and technology. To tell the world how you will create governance structures for finance in which no one is more equal than the next. . . When you adopted the Bali Road Map, you agreed to the 2009 deadline. Twelve months before Copenhagen, you must give the process clear political guidance and show resolve. Your arrival here in Poznan signals that negotiations have begun in earnest. . .

". . . when the world has recovered from the economic recession, it will not have recovered from climate change. . . So how will you create a new way forward here? How will you spark a global green revolution? . . . You reached a breakthrough in Bali. Now you must make progress in Poznan, so that you can lay the cornerstone for strong action in Copenhagen. . . "

At a press briefing on December 8, Harlan Watson, Alternate Head of the U.S. Delegation in Poznań, in response to a question about any interactions with the Obama transition team in terms of briefing them on what's going on at the conference, he said, "No, I've not been in direct contact with them. As you know, the President-elect asked members of Congress to report back -- he would not be formally sending members of his transition team here, but rather would be relying on reports of members of Congress who would be attending. So we will be fully updating the Congressional delegation on the status of the negotiations, and rely on them to report back to the President-elect."

Access daily briefings from UNFCCC's de Boer (click here). Access a general release from the UN (click here). Access the complete 12/11 statement from the UN Secretary-General (click here). Access the complete 12/11 statement from the UNFCCC Executive Secretary (click here). Access a transcript of the Department of State press briefing (click here). Access the COP14 website for extensive information including links to all conference documents (click here). Access links to live webcasts of the meeting sessions (click here). Access the U.S. State Department website on the COP14 meeting (click here). Access complete detailed day-by-day coverage from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) (click here). [*Climate]