Monday, November 30, 2009

UN Head Warns Island Nations Against "Perfect" Climate Deal

Now 28: On what he called "the final lap of the years-long marathon to the United Nations climate change summit in Copenhagen," now just 6 days away, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed the Commonwealth summit meeting with small island developing States, held in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. He warned that holding out for a "perfect" deal at the climate change summit in Copenhagen, December 7-18, could result in there being no agreement at all. He called on all States to get behind a deal that is as ambitious as possible but also has broad international support. He told participants that given their countries were on the frontline of the impact of climate change, it was vital that their voices were heard to try to achieve “a strong, equitable agreement” in the Danish capital.

Speaking to the meeting with the leaders of AOSIS (the Alliance of Small Island States) and Small Island Developing States, (SIDs) he said, “I know the cost of inaction far outweighs the costs of acting today. I commend your call for deep emissions cuts in line with the science. And I support your call for scaled-up resources for urgent adaptation needs as well as mitigation.” Without a deal at the summit, Ban said greenhouse gas emissions would continue to rise and the impact of climate change worldwide would become ever more severe. A deal “must be as ambitious as possible. But to get a deal we need every country on board. We need you on board. The world needs your support at this critical moment.”

The Secretary-General said he recognized the concerns of many small island developing States, particularly about the need to set a long-term goal to keep global temperature increases as low as possible. He said, “Many refer to a 2-degree limit while for you, the most vulnerable countries, a safe level means staying below 1.5 degrees centigrade. That said, we face a simple reality: if we delay for perfection, we risk ending up with nothing -- no agreement at all.”

He indicated that momentum for a deal in Copenhagen, where at least 80 world leaders are expected to attend, was strong and continuing to grow. He said, “The world has never before witnessed this level of political engagement on climate. We will not get a better chance any time soon.” He emphasized that any deal reached in Copenhagen should deliver “immediate, practical results,” including the acceleration of financing of at least $10 billion a year to strengthen resilience and support mitigation measures against climate change in poorer and vulnerable countries.

He concluded, “A deal that will spur action on all key areas of adaptation, mitigation, finance and governance. An ambitious deal that will set a firm deadline for a legally binding treaty as soon as possible in 2010. The stronger the agreement in Copenhagen, the quicker it can be transformed into a legal framework.”

In the meantime, important documents that will form the basis of negotiations and agreements in Copenhagen are beginning to become available. The documents are from the two key committees that will be holding: (1) The tenth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP 10); and (2) The eighth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA 8).

Also as part of the White House announcement on that President Obama will be attending the Copenhagen COP15 meeting [
See WIMS 11/25/09], the U.S. State Department has established a special website dedicated solely to COP 15 events, as well as a Facebook page (See links below). The State Department, in coordination with the White House and multiple federal departments and agencies, is organizing and hosting a U.S. Center at UNFCCC COP15 conference. The U.S. Center will host over 70 events during the two-week conference.

One day following the White House announcement, on November 26, China announced that Premier Wen Jiabao will attend the Copenhagen climate summit and that China will commit to reducing its "carbon intensity" by 40 to 45 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. According to a statement from the Chinese government, the State Council said that China is going to reduce the "intensity of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP" in 2020 by 40 to 45 percent compared with the level of 2005. The State Council said, this is "a voluntary action" taken by the Chinese government "based on our own national conditions" and "is a major contribution to the global effort in tackling climate change,"

In a meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao on November 25,the State Council reviewed a national task plan addressing climate change. A press statement released November 26, said the index of carbon dioxide emissions cuts, announced for the first time by China, would be "a binding goal" to be incorporated into China's medium and long-term national social and economic development plans. The announcement said that new measures would be formulated to audit, monitor and assess its implementation. Qi Jianguo, an economic and environmental policy researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told Xinhua that the targets would put "great pressure" on China's development.

Access a release from the UN (
click here). Access the statement from Ban (click here). Access a second UN release and link to a second Ban speech of 11/27/09 (click here). Access the AOSIS website (click here). Access the SIDS website (click here). Access links to the AWG-LCA 8 documents (click here). Access links to the AWG-KP 10 documents (click here). Access the State Dept. COP15 website (click here). Access the State Dept. Facebook page (click here). Access a lengthy statement from the Chinese government (click here). Access the China Climate Change Info-Net website for more information (click here).