Wednesday, June 24, 2009

UN Chief Calls For “Unprecedented” Global Climate Summit

Jun 23: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon extended an invitation to heads of State and government to attend what is being called an “unprecedented” global summit at the United Nations to spur action towards reaching an ambitious climate change pact later this year. At a press conference in New York, he said, “Climate change is the greatest challenge facing this and future generations. Emissions are rising and the clock is ticking.” The plea echoes a similar call that the "clock is ticking" from a new international update report issued on June 18, at the at the European Policy Centre (EPC) in Brussels [See WIMS 6/19/09].

According to a release from the UN, the high-level meeting will be held at UN Headquarters on September 22, just over two months before the start of the climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, where countries are expected to wrap up negotiations on an agreement to slash greenhouse gas emissions. The Secretary-General called on all world leaders to take part in the event and “make their commitment and give clear instructions to [their] negotiators on climate change.”

Citing the top scientists, he stressed that there are fewer than 10 years left to stop rising emissions in order to avoid “catastrophic” problems. “Now is the time for action,” he said. The UN can raise awareness of the issue of global warming, but ultimately, Ban said, it is the world’s parliaments, presidents, prime ministers, governors and mayors who must take bold measures to tackle climate change. Ban said to date, their response has been “less than sufficient.” He said he hopes that cooperation will allow them to “seal the deal” on the new climate pact, which will replace the Kyoto Protocol whose first commitment period ends in 2012.

The Secretary-General said climate change negotiations “should be led by the industrialized countries in view of their historical responsibilities” with developed nations providing financial and technical support to help vulnerable countries cope with the impact of global warming. The announced summit will occur on the eve of the start of the General Assembly’s high-level debate. It will also take place during Climate Week NYC, an initiative to last from September 21-25, which was unveiled at the same press conference by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg said, “Our city will be honored not only to host the General Assembly, but to enthusiastically support the summit on climate change.”

The summit meeting announcement marks another important date on the way to Copenhagen. The UNFCCC (COP 15) meeting in Copenhagen will take place December 7 to 18. The next meeting of UNFCCC informal consultations and work group meetings will take place August 10 to 14 in Bonn, followed by a gathering in Bangkok from September 28 to October 9, and a further gathering from November 2 to 6 in Barcelona. Additionally, outside of the UNFCCC process, but intricately linked, the Major Economies had a work meeting from June 22-23 in Mexico City and a "leaders' meeting" and the G8 Summit in Italy, in July 2009.

Access a release from the UN (
click here). Access a transcript of the press conference and questions from reporters (click here).