Tuesday, December 04, 2012

UN Secretary-General Kicks Off High-Level Climate Change Talks

Dec 4: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged countries to act decisively to tackle the "growing crisis" of climate change, as the negotiations kicked into high gear at the Doha, Qatar 18th Conference of the Parties (COP18) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). At the start of the high-level segment (CMP8) Ban said, "Let us be under no illusion. This is a crisis. A threat to us all. Our economies. Our security. And the well-being of our children and those who will come after.
    Pointing to the unprecedented melting of icecaps [See WIMS 11/30/12], rising sea levels, and land degradation and drought in various parts of the world, Ban said, "The danger signs are all around. No one is immune to climate change -- rich or poor. It is an existential challenge for the whole human race -- our way of life, our plans for the future. We must take ownership. We, collectively, are the problem. Then we should have the solutions."

    COP18/CMP8 brings together 195 Parties to the UNFCCC, the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Under the Protocol, 37 States -- consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing the process of transition to a market economy -- have legally binding emission limitation and reduction commitments. Delegates at the two-week conference -- that ends this Friday -- will, among other goals, try to extend the Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period expires at the end of 2012.

    Ban said, "I urge all Parties to work with a spirit of compromise -- to take the long view and avoid getting bogged down in minutiae. Let us ensure that we stay on track for an effective, fair, ambitious and universal climate agreement by 2015." He said he hoped for five key "deliverables" by Governments in Doha this week, beginning with the adoption of a ratifiable second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

    Additionally he said he also expected progress on long-term climate finance, and ensuring that the institutions set up in Cancun and Durban to support mitigation and adaptation by developing countries -- including the Green Climate Fund and the Climate Technology Centre and Network -- are fully equipped and effective. Also, he expected governments to demonstrate, with no ambiguity, that negotiations on a global and legally binding instrument remain on track, and to show how they intend to act on the gap between mitigation pledges and what is required to achieve the two degrees target [See WIMS 11/26/12].  He said, "The gap can be bridged. But time is not on our side." 

    The President of the General Assembly, Vuk Jeremic, told the meeting that addressing the problem of climate change must become a core national interest of every UN Member State. He said, "The window of opportunity to prevent the effects of climate change from spiraling out of our control is closing. When future generations look upon the choices we made, let them not be forced to exclaim that we failed to act in time. Let them not have to suffer the consequences of the inability to answer the clarion call to act with conscientious foresight."

    COP President Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah said, "I welcome all ministers arriving for the final, high-level segment of the Doha climate change conference. The Qatar Presidency of COP 18/CMP 8 will continue to work with all countries in an open, transparent and inclusive process that must reach a timely and successful conclusion." Revised texts from all negotiating groups have now been issued and ministers are beginning to provide guidance to reduce the number of options on outstanding political issues.  At a stock-taking plenary meeting on 3 December, the President announced a series of ministerial outreach consultations to help find the political space that will allow countries to reach common ground on the remaining key issues.

    The COP Presidency invited Ministers and heads of delegation to participate in an Informal Ministerial Round Table on 5 December on the issue of how mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation can be strengthened now and in the future.  The Presidency also announced a series of regular, informal, open plenaries so negotiators are able to assess comprehensive progress and it is providing regular updates on the negotiations on the UNFCCC website (See link below). 

    Access a release from the UN and link to the complete Ban statement (click here). Access a CMP8 update news release (click here). Access the Negotiations Update website (click here). Access the UNFCCC COP18 website for complete information including agenda, documents, statements, and much more (click here). Access on-demand webcasts including briefings and statements from individual countries and organizations (click here). Access daily reporting from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) (click here). Access the U.S. Department of State COP18 website (click here). [#Climate]

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