Wednesday, July 15, 2009

UN Head Presses For "Ambitious" Mid-Term Targets & Baselines

Jul 14: Five top United Nations officials have added their names to a petition urging world leaders to "seal the deal" in Copenhagen, Denmark, this December on an ambitious new climate change pact aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Joining the growing list of names (5,622 to date) are Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO); Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO); Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); Pascal Lamy, Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO); and Francis Gurry, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

The officials signed the online petition, which will be presented to leaders at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Conference of the Parties (COP15) gathering in Copenhagen, where negotiations are expected to wrap up on a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period ends in 2012. The campaign calls for binding targets to be set on cutting emissions by 2020 and help for vulnerable countries so they can adapt to the effects of climate change. It also highlights the urgent need for a new deal that will spur ‘green’ growth, protect the planet and build a more sustainable and prosperous global economy that will benefit all countries and people. The interim binding targets issue has remained particularly contentious with major parties still far apart on the percent of greenhouse gas reduction and on the base year (i.e. 1990 or other) upon which to measure such reductions [See WIMS 7/13/09].

Last week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the cuts in emissions proposed by the world’s largest economies are not deep enough, warning that greater efforts must be exerted by governments if a meaningful agreement on climate change is to be reached in the Danish capital. The Secretary-General said the climate change commitments made by the leaders of those countries and other participants during the G8 and Major Economies Forum (MEF) meetings in L’Aquila, Italy, “while welcome, are not sufficient. The time for delays and half-measures is over. The personal leadership of every head of State or government is needed to seize this moment to protect people and the planet from one of the most serious challenges ever to confront humanity.” Ban said that the long-term 2050 target agreement [i.e. 80% by 2050] was not credible without “ambitious mid-term targets, and baselines.” Ban is calling for firm commitments to reduce their emissions by 2020 on the order of the 25 - 40 per cent below 1990 levels which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says is required.

He said, with G8 countries responsible for more than 80 per cent of global emissions, “that is why they bear special responsibility for finding a solution to the political impasse. If they fail to act this year, they will have squandered a unique historical opportunity that may not come again… We stand at a historical crossroads. Business as usual is no longer viable.”

Access a release from the UN with links to the various organizations (click here). Access the Seal the Deal website for the petition, list of signers and campaign information (click here).