GENERAL ASSEMBLY’S DEBATE TESTAMENT TO IMPORTANCE OF TAKING IMMEDIATE PRACTICAL STEPS TO ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE THREAT, SAYS ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-second General Assembly
82nd, 83rd & 84th Meetings (AM, PM & Night)
GENERAL ASSEMBLY’S DEBATE TESTAMENT TO IMPORTANCE OF TAKING IMMEDIATE PRACTICAL
STEPS TO ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE THREAT, SAYS ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT
115 Speakers Addressed Broad Range of Issues, Including UN System Response,
Partnerships, Aid for Most Vulnerable, Secure Financing for Mitigation, Adaptation
As he closed the General Assembly’s three-day thematic debate on climate change late this evening, Assembly President Kerim Srgjam (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) said the fact that more than 100 speakers from around the world had spoken was a testament to the importance of taking immediate practical action to overcome climate change’s threat to the human family’s way of life.
During the debate entitled “Addressing Climate Change: The United Nations and the World at Work”, speaker after speaker urged immediate steps and changes in behaviour by everyone from individuals and communities to Governments, organizations and the private sector to successfully address the danger of climate change, he said. They made compelling arguments on why the United Nations should promote integrated partnerships and approaches with all interested stakeholders. Individuals should not feel disempowered by the scale of the challenge and no contribution was too small, he added, noting that there was no doubt among Member States about the strong links between climate change and sustainable development.
“Long-term targets to reduce carbon emission must go hand in hand with adapting to the global warming that is already taking place, and which could accelerate. Why? Because we want more growth, more development, but must also secure our planet and safeguard our future,” Mr. Srgjam said.
The United Nations Secretariat, he said, must now respond with policy solutions that could help Member States answer some of the questions posed during the debate, such as how to mainstream climate change into nationally owned development strategies, close the implementation gap and help developing countries adapt to climate change’s inevitable impact, as well as how to stimulate financial flows for adaptation, mitigation and climate-resilient development, and strengthen the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change regime. Global awareness-raising by the Organization was also essential, as was generating broad-based support and providing technical cooperation to ensure full implementation of existing and future agreements under the Convention.
Mr. Srgjam said he would hold two additional meetings to consider the concerns of vulnerable countries and corporate responsibility and sustainability in more detail. He stressed that it was clear that, when leading global businessmen, like Sir Richard Branson, and New York’s Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, were willing to throw their weight behind the Assembly, the private sector and local governments took the issue extremely seriously. “By bringing in business creativity and innovation, we have a real opportunity to create a virtuous circle whereby Member States -– providing market incentives and a clear enabling framework for the private sector -– bolster confidence in green investment over the long term,” he asserted.
Developed countries were increasingly showing their willingness to provide fresh financing and enhance the critical role of international financial institutions and the private sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, he said. Expediting technology transfers to developing countries and securing sufficient financing for adaptation and mitigation was key. Further, the Assembly had sent a clear signal to the World Bank and the donor community to scale up investment in developing countries and to support national and international efforts to address climate change.
Prior to Mr. Srgjan’s conclusion, some 75 representatives today exchanged views on how to proceed in responding to the challenges of climate change. Small island States and other vulnerable countries continued to be the most vocal in sounding the alarm about the harm they were already suffering in their economies, their environments, their state of health and their way of life, while many countries put forward their ideas for an international architecture for mitigation of, and adaptation to, the changes ahead.
Sweden’s representative said his country had established an international commission on “climate proofing” development assistance, which would contribute to United Nations efforts. The 13-member commission was a forum for policymakers to discuss how to design official development assistance and poverty reduction programmes in ways that took into account climate change and disaster risk reduction.
Calling fragmentation the greatest barrier to effective United Nations action, the representative of the United Kingdom called for deep analysis of all United Nations current activities to support implementation of the Climate Change Convention and all the commitments made at the Bali Conference, in order to take stock of strengths, weaknesses, overlaps and gaps.
Japan’s representative pointed to his country’s “Cool Earth Promotion Programme” proposal as a model for reducing the carbon output of all major emitting countries. If the same level of efficiency set for Japan’s power plants were achieved in the United States, India and China, he said the resulting carbon dioxide emission reductions would amount to 1.3 billion tons -– the equivalent of Japan’s annual total emissions. He proposed setting a global target to improve energy efficiency by 30 per cent by 2020. The associated Cool Earth Partnership would provide $10 billion over five years in mitigation, adaptation and clean energy access to developing countries.
New Zealand’s representative said his country was developing a comprehensive Emissions Trading Scheme covering every sector of the economy, including agriculture and forestry, and six gases, not just CO2. India’s representative reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to keeping greenhouse gas emissions at a per capita level below that of developed countries and to continue, overall, on the path of environmentally-sound sustainable development. The representative of Saudi Arabia said it was important to assure that mitigation actions did not create market distortions, leading to instability in energy supplies for development.
Many of the most vulnerable countries, however, objected to what they saw as inequalities in the current framework and the lack of adequate plans to remediate their urgent situations in the recommendations of the Secretary-General’s latest report and the current debate. The representative of the Solomon Islands said it seemed like being small was a curse under the current climate regime, which did not offer much help for his country’s desperate situation.
The representative of Papua New Guinea said the time for “mind-numbing debate” had passed and the time for leadership had arrived. His Government was now actively working to integrate climate change strategies into the principles of the Millennium Development Goals. He urged the developed countries to shoulder their full load. “We are very concerned by the hubris of certain industrialized nations who promote emissions reductions in certain developing countries as a precondition for taking responsibility for carbon emissions at home,” he said. Even a 2 per cent levy on Clean Development Mechanism trades was “untenable and unconscionable”, since most developing countries had contributed almost nothing to the crisis.
Also speaking today were the representatives of the Marshall Islands, San Marino, India, Tunisia, Kazakhstan, Monaco, Russian Federation, Djibouti, Malta, Singapore, Thailand, Libya, Qatar, Israel, Portugal, Pakistan, Denmark, Saint Vincent, Turkey, Republic of Korea and Cyprus.
Speaking in the afternoon and evening sessions were the representatives of Germany, Palau, Cuba, El Salvador, Uzbekistan, Namibia, Iran, Comoros, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Montenegro, United Arab Emirates, Mongolia, Armenia, Ukraine, Kenya, Samoa, Canada, Belarus, Colombia, Norway, Micronesia, Guatemala, Nepal, Tajikistan, Nigeria, Guinea, Bahamas, Mauritius, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Switzerland, Ecuador, Bolivia, Liechtenstein, Argentina and Benin.
Participating as observer delegations were the Holy See, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFCRC), the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and the European Community.
A total of 115 representatives of countries and organizations spoke in the three-day thematic debate on climate change. Others addressed Monday’s introductory session and panel discussions, which were opened by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City.
The General Assembly will meet again at a time to be announced.
The General Assembly today resumed its thematic debate “Addressing Climate Change: The United Nations and the World at Work”. For earlier meetings, see Press Releases GA/10688 and GA/10689.
RINA TAREO ( Marshall Islands) said the global community needed a more effective and coherent United Nations system to turn broad hopes for action on climate change into actual results. The United Nations must recognize that adaptation was an inherently limited long-term solution for low-lying Member States such as the Marshall Islands. The Organization should facilitate productive diplomatic discussion on issues of human rights, national sovereignty and shared responsibilities relative to the question of climate change. It should also assist Member States with domestic implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and other climate change goals. Major greenhouse gas emitters were struggling to integrate climate change strategies with economic development goals and domestic climate change initiatives were proving too time-consuming to develop. The global community should urgently examine the potential links between climate goals and existing national or local environmental laws.
Key partnerships had allowed the Marshall Islands to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, she continued. More innovative cross-sectoral partnerships would open up direct lines of communication with populations affected by climate change and those decision-makers who could help reduce such effects. The United Nations should address the potential for the conservation of coral reefs as an eligible carbon sink under the Clean Development Mechanism and should further examine the link between climate change impacts and the food security gained from commercial and subsistence fisheries. Finally, she expressed her concern that new global climate change funding mechanisms under discussion with the World Bank could compete with existing funding channels for adaptation, and she urged the United Nations to ensure that climate change adaptation funding continued to be addressed with transparency.
DANIELE BODINI ( San Marino) agreed with both the need to reconcile the economic aspirations of developing countries with the necessity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the need for a universal strategy under the leadership of the United Nations. New, renewable and affordable sources of energy were the key elements of the entire process, and could be best achieved through partnerships between Governments and the private sector, with fiscal and other incentives.
San Marino, he said, was finalizing legislation that promoted energy efficiency and the use of new energy technologies, and that introduced programmes to reduce water consumption. Education in sustainable development and respect for natural resources was a basic social policy of the country. To succeed globally, awareness must be raised in both the private sector and the Government. While there was no guarantee that the catastrophe of severe global warming could be stopped, the international community must remain committed, as reversing that threat “would be the greatest legacy for future generations”.
NIRUPAM SEN ( India) said all efforts to address climate change should support and feed into the ongoing processes under the Climate Change Convention, rather than create parallel processes. For developing countries, the issue of adaptation was of crucial importance. Though they had not contributed to causing climate change, they were most adversely affected by it and lacked the means and capacity for effective adaptation. The United Nations could play a critical role by assisting national adaptation strategies, particularly in regards to capacity-building, financial and technical support, as well as sharing knowledge. The issues of technology and financing were vital for effectively addressing climate change. Current mechanisms to promote affordable access to clean technologies for developing countries had not been very successful, and the United Nations needed to do more to push those agendas ahead.
The United Nations should also do more to assist in the development of financial mechanisms and funds for developing countries, he continued. On mitigation, the United Nations should focus on how developed countries could sharply reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, rather than identifying mitigation strategies for developing countries. Climate change should be addressed in the context of sustainable development, rather than attempting to integrate it with trade, social, economic, security, mitigation or humanitarian issues. Partnerships would play an important role in efforts to address climate change, and the United Nations should foster and promote creative models of partnership, which would assist national efforts. Greater emphasis on South-South cooperation in areas like adaptation would be particularly useful. In closing, he reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to keep greenhouse gas emissions at a per capita level below that of developed countries and to continue, overall, on the path of environmentally sound sustainable development.
HABIB MANSOUR ( Tunisia) pointed out that the regions least responsible for climate change were the most vulnerable to it and, as a consequence, the most limited in their ability to adapt to it. Indeed, adaptation was not only an alternative choice, but an imperative for survival. The principal of common but differentiated responsibility, upon which the Climate Change Convention was based, constituted a response to the economic, financial and technological disparities that existed among countries to adapt to the present -- and future -- adverse impacts of climate change. The Convention must be the principal negotiating forum in the post-Kyoto framework, while questions about financing and technology transfer must be at the centre of the issues discussed.
In that context, it was important to diversify and multiply the sources of financing of the Adaptation Fund, he said. Describing various national initiatives, he added that Tunisia had placed environmental protection and climate change at the centre of its development policies. Nonetheless, national efforts were not enough; international support and different forms of bilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation were indispensable. It was in that context that Tunisia had organized, last November, an international conference entitled “International Solidarity on Climate Change Strategies for the African and Mediterranean Regions”. The climate change challenge concerned all segments of the international community.
COLLIN BECK ( Solomon Islands) aligned himself with the statements delivered on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, the least developed countries, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and the Pacific Island Forum. He said that, as evidenced by the Secretary-General’s report, the principal of equity and vulnerability had been lost in the discussion of climate change. Small had become a curse, as small countries were either too small or too expensive to be considered for assistance projects, and their fragile environments would be left to face the brunt of global warming. Direct partners must, therefore, take up the slack. He thanked Italy for establishing direct arrangements with Pacific island States and called on others to follow suit.
At the moment, he said, there was no clear direction on how the United Nations should deal with climate change. So far, the Organization was heavy on technical support and analytical data and light on ground activities. Internal migration, now happening in low-lying islands in the Solomon group, received no attention. A stronger United Nations, requiring mandatory compliance with internationally agreed pacts, was needed. Now, Governments were burdened by a proliferation of reporting for a huge amount of meetings. All climate change and environmental issues should be dealt with under one umbrella arrangement, ensuring that no country was left behind because of special needs.
For that purpose, he expressed hope that the Small Island Developing States Unit could be strengthened within the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, more training on climate change could be provided within the system and current commitments could be translated into action. In addition, he said, established mechanisms must be supported and partners must avoid putting funds outside of such agreed-upon tools. The United Nations existing assets and technologies must be made to perform the dual roles of undertaking current mandates, as well as expanding to include climate change functions.
BYRGANYM AITIMOVA ( Kazakhstan) welcomed the Secretary-General’s proposal to adopt decisive measures to fight climate change within the context of sustainable development. In that regard, the United Nations should be the medium to bring essential assistance to developing countries in the form of new technologies, along with the international financial institutions.
Despite the fact that Kazakhstan had not yet concluded its ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, the country contributed greatly to the global fight against climate change, she said. Greenhouse gas emissions had decreased, despite growing productivity, and alternative energy sources had increased. New measures would take force in 2008 and the country was actively fighting deforestation. She fully supported the building of partnerships among Government, the private sector and the United Nations on climate change, citing the “green oil” initiative as one example.
GILLES NOGHES ( Monaco) said that strategies to address climate change should go hand in hand with development. In creating those strategies, it was necessary to address not just coherent action, but also equity, responsibility and solidarity. Currently, the poorest countries of the world, which were contributing the least to the climate change problem, were being forced to pay the greatest price. Reinforcing their capacity to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change was of the utmost priority.
He added that his Government had provided assistance to a number of developing countries to help fight desertification, improve forest conservation and analyse atmospheric pollution. Nationally, it had adopted voluntary measures that touched all aspects of urban life, such as transportation and housing. On a global level, coherent and effective action, based on cross-sectoral partnerships that included the private sector and the philanthropic sector, were urgently necessary. In conclusion, he reaffirmed his Government’s support of the Adaptation Fund and stressed the need to support and strengthen the use of clean technologies.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said the United Nations should be the main platform for coordination of international cooperation on climate change, and its role should be strengthened in light the positive impetus of recent meetings and conferences. He welcomed the Bali action plan developed in December and its reaffirmation of the priority of the Climate Change Convention as the universal mechanism for attaining the ultimate goal of stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions at a level safe for humanity and the biosphere.
The Secretary-General’s report, aimed at reviewing and making optimal use of United Nations activities in the area of climate change deserved careful consideration, he said. If approved by all participants of the climate process, such measures would help produce a significant “synergy effect” and would complement the general international strategy to combat climate change. In closing, he noted the recent proposals to strengthen scientific research capacities on climate change and to carry out a comprehensive analysis of links between biofuels and food security, and to increase the role of forest ecosystems in the climate process.
ROBLE OLHAYE ( Djibouti) said the United Nations had become an indispensable, major force in highlighting the multifaceted challenge of climate change. Mandatory curbs were required to rein in the pace of environmental deterioration. Beyond the physical and environmental effects brought on by global warming, climate change would have critical effects on international peace and security, migration, resource availability and humanitarian affairs. Africa would be the continent hardest hit by climate change, due to the inevitable water scarcities, crop failures, heat waves and forced migrations.
In all probability, he continued, the developing world would be forced to focus primarily on adaptation to the effects of climate change. Mitigation, technology and financing could not be the focus for those countries, due to their lack of resources in each area. Indeed, adaptation itself necessitated widespread, costly changes, even when those adaptations were modest and low-tech. Alternative sources of clean, reliable and affordable energy were necessary to combat carbon emissions and its attendant pollution. At the heart of most measures to combat climate change was the issue of financing. The United Nations should serve as the conduit for information in all areas of emission control and the reduction of atmospheric pollution. Programmes should be developed with funding, investment and management participation in mind. The United Nations should encourage such arrangements, while continuing to inform, promote and coordinate action on climate change.
SAVIOUR BORG ( Malta) said his delegation believed that, while the Framework Convention must remain the central forum for negotiating climate change issues, the wider United Nations system must play a strong supporting role. In that regard, during last September’s general debate, Malta’s Prime Minister had called for a more cohesive and coordinated approach among all international institutions to address global warming and its repercussions. The Maltese leader had also called on all stakeholders dealing with climate risk-reduction efforts to take a stand on a unified strategy and action plan to strengthen the resilience of affected countries to face and adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.
Malta was, therefore, pleased that the Secretary-General’s report on the Organization’s relevant activities identified not only a number of activities already under way, but also acknowledged the critical role the multilateral system was playing in the Organization’s support for the negotiations taking place under the Framework Convention. He went on to say that the outcome of the Bali Conference had generated a “sense of urgency and ownership”, and that it was now up to Member States to translate the statements of their political leaders into meaningful and concrete actions. The Bali action plan gave hope that the entire international community would engage in an energetic and ambitious effort to respond to climate change, including through actions on adaptation, mitigation, technology and financing, all the while aware that the first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol would end in 2012. He added that Malta had taken initiatives to highlight the urgency of the issue, helping organize the first international conference to address climate change diplomacy and a summer school on climate change law and policy at the University of Malta.
VANU GOPALA MENON ( Singapore) said that, as a small island, his country was taking immediate steps to address climate change, but it was a global issue that required collective solutions. The Climate Change Convention was the key platform for those solutions. After 2012, the new framework must put substance into the principle of common, but differentiated responsibilities and take into account differences in national circumstances such as size, population, stages of development and available resources. It should also take into account the need for continued development and economic growth.
Cost-effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, he said, included an increase of energy efficiency, a strategy that Singapore had already embraced. It had also resolved to use cleaner energy sources, such as natural gas, and was researching new technologies. The world’s carbon depositories, including forests and peatlands, must also be protected, and his country supported initiatives for that purpose, as well. In closing, he said that each country must contribute its fair share towards a realistic and workable global solution.
DON PRAMUDWINAI ( Thailand) stressed the close links between climate change and development, particularly the Millennium Development Goals. The Bali road map -- which identified mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer and financial mechanisms as priority areas of concern, as well as encouraged further studies on lowering emissions in developing countries through reduced deforestation -- should form the basis of the General Assembly’s discussion today. The debate could enhance the climate change negotiation tracks under the Climate Change Convention by enhancing the United Nations role in encouraging appropriate leadership by developed countries in global efforts to mitigate greenhouse gases. South-South cooperation could play a complementary role to North-South obligations.
Technology transfer and financing would prove critical to developing countries in their fight against climate change, he said. The fight against climate change would eventually require an industrial revolution, as much as a revolution in “green lifestyle” consumption patterns. A breakthrough was needed in financing for development and the intellectual property rights regime that would make climate-friendly technology and products affordable. The United Nations and its subsidiary bodies could contribute greatly to enhancing climate change technology transfer and resource mobilization among parties to the Climate Change Convention by helping them resolve conflicting issues in those two areas. The United Nations should make it a priority to operationalize the Adaptation Fund and other innovative mechanisms. The private sector and public-private partnerships also had a crucial role.
GIADALLA A. ETTALHI (Libya) said that, now that the Bali meeting had drawn up the road map for international climate change negotiations through the end of 2009, serious political will and mutual trust between all parties would be needed to get the next round of talks off to a successful start. It also required all States to recognize that the dangers of global warming went beyond local and national capacities and must be addressed through concerted and coherent international efforts, based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. That response must also be based on Member States’ commitments to achieving internationally agreed development gaols, including the Millennium Goals.
In that context, he stressed that many African countries threatened by drought needed support to implement, among others, their short- and long-term agricultural development programmes. Since the agricultural sector was the main source of food for many people in the region, such international support required strengthening of integrated water resources management, including irrigation systems. It also required helping affected communities acquire the knowledge and skills to obtain and cultivate seed crops that were able to withstand drought. Most importantly, there must be coherence between the proposed adaptation policies and the goals of both the Convention to Combat Desertification and the Convention on Biological Diversity.
NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER ( Qatar) said the Bali road map and the Climate Change Convention should remain the framework for activities to combat climate change. Qatar was actively monitoring the implementation of its commitments under those agreements and was a member of the Council of the Adaptation Fund, having made a contribution of $1.5 billion at the Riyadh conference recently.
Due to the heavy impact of climate change on developing countries, it must be dealt with in the context of sustainable development, he said. In that context, technology and resource transfer were extremely important, along with adequate assistance for adaptation and capacity-building.
DAN GILLERMAN ( Israel) said the United Nations should lead the global partnership to combat climate change and assist countries to adapt to the inevitable effects of the process. The gaps in resources and capacity among States demanded a differentiated timetable for them to adjust their national policies and implement their commitments, though all States should participate in the mitigation of climate change. Those who sought to expedite their timetables were welcomed, however.
He said his country desired to share experiences, technologies, best practices and know-how for combating climate change and was committed to advancing cooperation in other areas, as well. He pledged his country’s commitment to the Climate Change Convention framework and to work on all fronts to combat climate change. He particularly supported the flexibility mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol, which had helped Israel tailor its national policies to attract projects in sustainable fields.
He described his country’s initiatives and new technologies in forestry, reversing desertification, sustainable agriculture and other areas. In the future, the country sought to increase partnerships in all those areas. He also described the importance of regional agreements reached, despite political divides with its neighbours, as well as the importance of the non-governmental organization contributions to the combat against climate change.
JOÃO SALGUEIRO ( Portugal) said climate change could not be faced merely as an environmental issue. The international community needed to address the challenges of development and climate change in a more coherent and focused manner. Adaptation measures could only be successful if implemented in the context of national and international sustainable development plans. Besides, adaptation to climate change should be mainstreamed within development assistance programmes. Recognizing the urgency of tackling the challenge, Portugal, together with its European Union partners, had shown its determination to continue playing an active role in the fight against the negative effects of climate change. It was clear, however, that climate change must be acknowledged as a real global threat and that urgent action must be taken by the international community as a whole.
Following a number of international events in 2007, Bali had provided an important breakthrough, with the parties agreeing to engage in a two-year negotiating process to deliver a global and comprehensive climate agreement, he continued. In that joint endeavour, all countries had the responsibility to act according to their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. To keep up the momentum, it was necessary to further translate words into solid action, by establishing tangible and ambitious goals. The United Nations must cultivate that global political thrust and enhance the areas where its contribution could better serve the objectives to be attained through common commitment and decisive partnerships. The Secretary-General’s report on the overview of the Organization’s activities in relation to climate change was a very useful starting point, upon which the wider membership could judiciously build, with a view to advancing the climate change agenda through meetings of the Climate Change Convention parties in Poland at the end of this year and in Denmark in 2009. The next steps “will require unprecedented international cooperation on a path that we must truly walk together, with the United Nations system at the centre of this endeavour”, he said.
FARUKH AMIL ( Pakistan) said the Bali action plan promoted an integrated and coordinated approach to address climate change in a manner that enhanced and ensured the sustainable development and sustained economic growth of developing countries. Despite its low greenhouse gas emissions, Pakistan was experiencing irrevocable damage due to climate change, including to its forest resources and natural ecosystems. South Asia, in general, was a region severely affected by climate change and, as such, Pakistan had committed itself to a series of national measures for the improvement and protection of the environment, such as the establishment of a global change impact studies centre, a clean development mechanism cell and a mega-forestry project for carbon sequestration.
However, it was clear that the climate change challenge was too great for any one country to tackle, he added. The United Nations had a central role to play in advancing the global development agenda and in addressing the three pillars of sustainable development. The Organization should also ensure that commitments already made to address climate change were fully met and implemented and that developing countries were given the necessary assistance to help them develop national action plans and strategies on climate change. The appropriate United Nations agencies should also play leading roles in providing information, assistance and support to assess the finance and technology necessary to combat climate change effectively and to ensure that those needs would be met. Finally, he recognized the importance of public-private partnerships in preparing an effective response to climate change, but stressed that, given the magnitude and scale of the challenge involved, the role of the public sector remained paramount.
CARSTEN STAUR ( Denmark) said the results of the Bali Conference demonstrated the need to set global targets to reduce carbon emissions and provided a coherent framework for negotiations based on adaptation and mitigation, supported by efforts on technology, financing and capacity-building. The United Nations played a pivotal role in providing the framework for negotiations and in mobilizing broader supportive action across United Nations agencies. Looking to the future, he outlined five strategic objectives for the United Nations that warranted special priority. The first objective was for the United Nations to ensure global coordination of operational activities on adaptation and mitigation, with other global actors such as the World Bank and the World Trade Organization, so that the division of labour between the various actors was clearly delineated.
The United Nations should also continue to facilitate the flow of information on climate change, he continued, and should promote the integration of climate change considerations in policy formulation and decision-making. The Organization also had an essential role to play in capacity-building at the country level and, finally, its fifth strategic objective should be to take the lead in providing the conceptual framework for the integration of climate change concerns into the broader development agenda. In closing, he reaffirmed his Government’s willingness to provide the support necessary to the United Nations to allow it to achieve those objectives.
CAMILLO GONSALVES ( Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) said the adoption of the Bali road map was a welcome, if modest, step in the continued struggle for global climate security. Now it was time for the world to work towards concrete implementation of both the spirit and the letter of that road map. It was crucial for developed countries to radically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. However, those reductions should not overshadow the fact that climate change was a stark reality and was already causing severe damages in countries like Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The twin issues of adaptation and financing were of the utmost importance. Adaptation financing could not just be an “awkward appendage” to mitigation efforts. Innovative regional approaches to adaptation and opportunities for fresh partnerships in capacity-building were urgently necessary.
It was also necessary to fundamentally review the debt obligations of developing countries through the prism of climate change, he continued. The gravity of climate change also challenged the longstanding proprietary paradigms of technological exclusivity. The world could not sacrifice its collective climate security because of outmoded concepts of intellectual property. It was crucial to view climate change not just as an environmental issue, but also as a cross-cutting developmental concern. For some States, like Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, coping with climate change was not just an added expense, but rather required a complete readjustment of developmental priorities. The profound developmental implications of climate change should trigger a fundamental re-examination of the international community’s approach to developmental assistance. The survival of the planet was a collective responsibility, and there was no room for failure.
BAKI İLKIN (Turkey), fully aligning himself with the statement made by Slovenia on behalf of the European Union, said his country was extremely vulnerable to climate change due to the fragility of its rainfall levels, and he appreciated the concerns of small island States and others over the threats to their prospects for sustainable development. Adaptation was as important as mitigation, therefore. Developed countries would have to shoulder a bigger responsibility in technology transfer, capacity-building and other areas, but developing countries would also have to play their part.
In recent years, he said, the Turkish Government had made serious efforts to introduce and implement adaptive measures ranging from effective water management and irrigation to national and international afforestation campaigns. The country was in an unusual category in relation to the Climate Change Convention. Its status as an annex I party did not reflect its level of industrialization. Turkey, although an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) country, was neither a fully developed industrialized country, nor a country with an economy in transition. As such, it relied mainly on its own national resources for adaptation, while non-annex I parties were also to benefit from the relevant mechanism of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol. He hoped the post-2012 regime would re-categorize countries more accurately. His country fully supported global efforts under the guidance of the United Nations towards adaptation, while implementing mitigation policies and combating desertification. Towards those goals, the country was hosting several international conferences in the near future.
YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) said that, at the recent World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Japan’s Prime Minister had presented his “Cool Earth Promotion Programme” proposal, saying that Japan would, along with other major emitters, set a quantified national target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. An equal shouldering of that obligation was imperative to drastically reduce greenhouse gases worldwide. Japan would transfer technology and set up financial mechanisms. Japan had succeeded in achieving economic growth, while protecting the environment by striving to conserve energy, and it was willing to share that experience by transferring high-quality environmental technology to other countries. If the same level of efficiency in Japan’s power plants was achieved in the United States, India and China, the resulting carbon dioxide emission reductions would amount to 1.3 billion tons -– the equivalent of Japan’s annual total emissions. He proposed setting a global target to improve energy efficiency by 30 per cent by 2020.
Japan’s Cool Earth Partnership would provide $10 billion over five years in mitigation, adaptation and clean energy access to developing countries that were striving to reduce emissions and struggling against the severe adverse impact of climate change, he said. Special attention would be paid to small island developing States and landlocked least developing countries that were exposed to such dangers as land submersion and desertification as a result of other countries’ emissions. Japan also aimed to create a multilateral fund with the United States and the United Kingdom, and he invited other donors to participate. Technological breakthroughs were critical to halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and Japan was expediting the development of technology, such as zero carbon dioxide emission coal-fired power plants and low-cost, high-efficiency solar power generation technology. In the next five years, Japan would invest approximately $30 billion in research and development in the environment and energy fields.
JOHN SAWERS (United Kingdom) said he had drawn several conclusions from the debate thus far: the international community was united in its sense of urgency to tackle climate change through the Climate Change Convention; climate change threatened peace and security as well as prosperity and development; and the United Nations was already doing a lot of good work, such as providing unbiased scientific evidence, monitoring and early warning of climate change events. United Nations agencies must identify where they fit within the broad international system. New money needed to help developing countries acquire clean energy and adapt to a changing climate should flow mainly through development banks and the private sector. But, United Nations agencies should ensure that funding was used effectively by helping developing countries’ Governments build capacity. A strategic vision was needed to determine how the United Nations could best contribute to the Bali action plan.
Fragmentation was the greatest barrier to the United Nations ability to maximize its impact, he said. The Secretary-General’s 25 January report illustrated the United Nations enormous potential to help tackle climate change. But, the lack of a shared, strategic vision to realize that potential was striking. He called for analysing the United Nations current activities to support implementation of the Convention and on each of the Bali commitments, in order to take stock of strengths, weaknesses, overlaps and gaps. He also called for identifying the comparative advantage of each United Nations body, based on their respective existing mandates, skills base, global profile and potential, taking full account of the roles of the rest of the international system, as well as developing a coherent United Nations climate engagement strategy, under the Secretary-General’s leadership, that responded to the Bali action plan.
CHO HYUN ( Republic of Korea) welcomed the Bali road map and the launch of comprehensive post-2012 negotiations to ensure that both developed and developing countries would participate in combating climate change, in the context of each country’s economic and social circumstances. The solution to the worldwide challenge required a long-ranged planetary perspective, with the United Nations playing a pivotal role in forging international resolve to implement the Bali action plan and encouraging stronger partnerships among Governments, the private sector and civil society.
Each United Nations agency, he said, should place climate change at the top of its agenda and promote the mainstreaming of so-called green activities in the most coordinated way possible. For that reason, he supported the efforts of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination. Alongside United Nations efforts, each country must also coordinate its national efforts in the most effective manner. His country had been expanding its efforts, learning that it was necessary to produce a comprehensive mid and long-term plan, including all elements needed to fight climate change and all sectors of society. It would continue to contribute constructively in international efforts, as well.
ROBERT G. AISI ( Papua New Guinea) said the time for “mind-numbing debate” had passed and the time for leadership had arrived. His Government was now actively working to integrate climate change strategies into the principles of the Millennium Development Goals. Though that was a complex undertaking for a developing country, Papua New Guinea aspired to lead by example, in partnership with the United Nations and other stakeholders. The following two years would become increasingly complex, as the global community struggled to define common but differentiated responsibilities and the steps that nations should undertake to deal with climate change, either through mitigation or adaptation. The primary responsibility for global warming and its consequences fell primarily upon industrialized nations. “We are very concerned by the hubris of certain industrialized nations who promote emission reductions in certain developing countries as a precondition for taking responsibility for carbon emissions at home,” he said.
He continued by calling on industrialized countries to lead by example with deep emissions cuts. Those cuts could be leveraged to mobilize sufficient and sustainable resources to underwrite emission reductions in developing countries, along with efforts towards adaptation. Carbon consumption taxes, the reduction of energy subsidies and new and additional official development assistance should also be considered. His Government, along with many other developing countries, was proposing a new initiative to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Tropical rainforests were being cut down because the world was not paying for the “planet’s lungs, thermostat and air-conditioning system”, and more resources should be allocated to preserving those valuable assets. The current Convention mechanism to fund adaptation in developing countries was “frankly unethical”. There was no justification for taxing developing countries –- which were not responsible for causing climate change -- with a 2 per cent levy on Clean Development Mechanism trades. Such a structure was “untenable and unconscionable”. Therefore, in an effort to lead by example, once again, his Government would present a new agenda at the next Climate Change Conference of the parties on that matter.
ANDREAS D. MAVROYIANNIS ( Cyprus) said climate change constituted a threat not only to development, but also to global peace and security. Scarcity of resources could fuel conflict or heighten phenomena such as famine, disease, social and political unrest and regional instability. Now, it was a question of whether the existing damage could be reversed and to what extent the global community could adapt, in order to avoid becoming hostages to climatic conditions. Vulnerable States, in particular small island developing States, had contributed very little to environmental damage, but were the most impacted by it. They also had the fewest means of defence and required support in the areas of adaptation, mitigation, technology and financing.
The Conference at Bali had generated a wide and clear commitment towards concerted and integrated action within the appropriate multilateral framework of the United Nations. It was time now to move from discussion towards action and measurable progress. The magnitude of the global challenge of climate change should give rise to a sustained and multidimensional effort encompassing short-, medium- and long-term goals. Though the Bali road map was a significant step, it was only one among many required in the efforts of the international community to ensure that current and future generations could live in a safe and prosperous world.
THOMAS MATUSSEK ( Germany) said industrialized countries should remain the driving force in fighting climate change, above all, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 to 40 per cent, compared to 1990 levels. Germany was committed to reducing its emissions by 40 per cent, and had adopted an integrated climate and energy policy plan that would massively expand renewable energies and raise the national standards for energy efficiency in buildings by 30 per cent. A climate-friendly restructuring of the economy was both possible and affordable, and an ambitious climate policy should not constitute an obstacle to economic and sustainable growth. In Germany, every billion euro spent on the energy-saving modernization of existing buildings created roughly 25,000 jobs in the construction and crafts sector. In the renewable energy sector, more than 200,000 jobs had been created over the previous decade.
He said that public-private partnerships and global action were crucial to success. Climate change was first and foremost a sustainable development challenge. For some countries, climate change was a matter of “sheer existence”, which threatened areas such as health, security, migration and nutrition. Only a United Nations-based framework would ensure that the voices of all countries were heard. Only the United Nations system could address the complementary challenges of development and climate change in a coherent manner. The Organization, however, should be more than merely the sum of its parts and develop and implement integrated policies. Financing mitigation and adaptation efforts and technology transfers required new and innovative concepts, and the United Nations should be the forum in which stakeholders shared those ideas. As the United Nations was undoubtedly the best suited to tackle the pressing issue of climate change, it was time for it to step up cooperation across the system to meet that challenge.
AYSAR TAYEB (Saudi Arabia), supporting the statement made by Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that his country shared the world’s concern over climate change and was committed to working together towards finding the right solutions. It was active both at the national level and internationally; at the summit of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Riyadh, it pledged $300 million for a new fund that would support research on energy and the environment.
Agreeing that stratagems to counter climate change should also be conducive for development, he said that the energy cycle must be kept on a steady path to meet growing needs. In that light, it was important to assure that mitigation actions did not create market distortions, leading to instability in energy supplies. For that reason, technological solutions such as carbon capture, provided win-win solutions. Regarding the Bali road map, whatever agreements were reached in the next four years, it was important that commitments were kept. Success could only be measured by the tangible difference achieved by international cooperation.
STUART BECK ( Palau) said the waters continued to rise in Palau, and everywhere else. Salinization of fresh water and formerly productive lands continued apace. Throughout the Pacific, sea-level rise had forced populations to relocate. Although such facts were well-known at the United Nations, no action with remedial consequences had been taken. Large countries could build dikes and move to higher ground, but that was not feasible for small island developing States. Islands were not the only countries whose existence was threatened. The Namibian Ambassador had characterized climate change as a matter of life or death for his country, and had observed that developing countries in particular had been subjected to what could be described as “low-intensity biological and chemical warfare”. Greenhouse gases were slowly destroying plants, animals and people. Pacific islands were likely to face massive dislocations of people, similar to flows sparked by conflict, and such circumstances would generate as much resentment, hatred and alienation as any refugee crisis.
He called upon the Security Council to react to climate change’s threat to international peace and security. Under Article 39 of the United Nations Charter, the Security Council “shall determine the existence of any threat to peace…and shall make recommendations…to maintain or restore international peace or security”. He called on the Council to do that in the context of climate change. Under the Charter, the Council was also obliged to “prevent an aggravation of the situation” and to devise appropriate measures for all States to carry out. Mindful of the scientific certainty that excessive greenhouse gas emissions were the cause of threats to global security, he suggested that the Council consider imposing mandatory emissions caps for all States and use its power to sanction, in order to encourage compliance. Under Article 11 of the Charter, the General Assembly was empowered to call the Council’s attention to “situations which are likely to endanger international peace and security”. Palau would call upon the United Nations to do so. If the Assembly did not avail itself of that right, Palau would call upon countries whose existence was threatened to use Article 34 to bring the matter to the Security Council.
RODRIGO MALMIERCA DIAZ (Cuba) said there was room for optimism in the fight against climate change, owing to the clear political will shown by a majority of countries to contribute, with due consideration to their respective responsibilities and capacities. It was very disappointing, however, that the country that was responsible for more than 25 per cent of the total greenhouse gas emissions had disregarded the Kyoto Protocol and that other industrialized countries were not making good on their Kyoto commitments. For its part, his Government had agreed to implement strategies, such as emissions reductions and absorption.
He said that the fight against climate change should not be an obstacle on the path to development for the many countries that had yet to achieve it. As such, he rejected all pressure directed at underdeveloped countries to enter into binding commitments to reduce emissions. Developed countries monopolized patents, technologies and money, and, therefore, were responsible for providing Third World countries the funding needed to obtain the necessary resources to tackle climate change. Cuba had implemented numerous adaptation programmes and measures, but more was required on the part of all States to properly address climate change. In particular, he called on Member States to make good on past promises made under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce emissions, increase funding and the use of renewable sources of energy, and ensure the effective transfer of clean technologies, which took into account the particular needs of developing countries.
CARMEN MARIA GALLARDO HERNANDEZ (El Salvador) supported the results of the Bali Conference, saying they would pave the way for advancing negotiations on an agreement to avoid the dangers of climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as focus on mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer and financing for developing countries. Active participation, and political will and compromise, particularly among developed countries, were crucial to reaching substantive agreements to fight climate change. That fight was not the responsibility of select countries or groups of countries, but of the entire international community. The world was on the verge of a global catastrophe of unimaginable consequences, which would drastically affect the use of natural resources and threaten the existence of biodiversity.
She said that climate change was a serious threat to international security. Threats to international peace and security could no longer be perceived in the traditional context of war and peace, as they had been since the United Nations founding. Most threats to security today were caused by things other than threats to wars and conflict among States. The Secretary-General had said that the shortage of water and cultivatable land would create conflict in some parts of Africa. Maximum efforts must be made to reverse the effects of climate change and to bring economic, scientific and technological changes and advancement in harmony with the environment, in order to ensure sustainable development and international security.
ALISHER VOHIDON ( Uzbekistan) said that climate change was a multifaceted problem, which required a multifaceted solution. The United Nations was in the unique position of developing that solution through a multilateral framework, based on cooperation. His Government had taken concrete steps nationally to fight climate change, including the implementation of energy-saving programmes and measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Internationally, climate change should be an integral part of broader debates on sustainable development. It was particularly important to ensure effective partnerships between developed and developing States, which would help provide the necessary financing and technologies.
Regionally, he said, the Central Asian community was particularly concerned with ensuring ecological security. Climate change had already had a significant effect on the ecosystems in the region, specifically in and around the Aral Sea. Unfortunately, the funds made available to date to help countries normalize the ecosystems in the region had been insufficient. Inadequate water resources and water resource management in the region was a growing problem, due to the changing climate. It was now time to look for new and innovative ways to alleviate those effects and to protect the safety and security of the population and its economy. He concluded by asking for the participation and cooperation of the international community to help bolster national and regional efforts towards that goal.
KAIRE MUNIONGANDA MBUENDE (Namibia), supporting the statement of Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that climate change represented the classic state of interdependence, in which the welfare of some spelled disaster for others. The need for partnership to respond to the crisis could not be overemphasized. At the international level, the United Nations had an important role to play in ensuring greater cooperation in the transfer, deployment and diffusion of technologies for mitigation and adaptation. Equally important was the adequate capitalization of the Adaptation Fund, as well as other financial sources.
He said that, since climate change would have a great impact on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, work at the national level must be well-coordinated with the development plans and strategies, and the reduction of poverty. The interlinkage between climate change, desertification, land degradation and loss of diversity should also be fully recognized. He affirmed, in conclusion, Namibia’s commitment to the Bali road map and action plan.
MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE ( Iran) said that climate change should not and could not be considered in isolation and without regard for other environmental issues, such as desertification and biodiversity loss. Nor should it be discussed irrespective of the development aspect of sustainable development. The relationship between climate change and sustained economic growth were well recognized worldwide. The envisaged international process on climate change should result in enhanced compliance of the provisions of the Climate Change Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, as well as the further commitments of the annex I countries in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, stepping up predictable financial resources and transferring advances and appropriate technologies. The historical responsibility of developed countries for greenhouse gas emissions should be taken into account, and the internationally agreed principle of common but differentiated responsibilities should be used as a basis for that process. Developed countries must take the lead and make significant contributions to achieve present and future global policies on mitigation and adaptation.
He said that, due to severe impacts of climate change, developing countries in general, and countries and areas identified in article 4.8 of the Convention, in particular, should enjoy more support from the international community, especially from the relevant funds. He stressed the need for the process envisaged by the Bali action plan to be transparent and inclusive, in order to ensure full and active participation of developing country parties to the Convention. Care should also be taken to avoid any decision or measure that may lead to further suffering in the most affected countries. Due to time constraints, it was important to focus on the four issues of financing, technology transfer, adaptation and mitigation, as well as on implementing them before 2012. Countries’ contributions to the Adaptation Fund were very important, and the level of such contributions, particularly from developed countries, was a clear indication of their commitment to mitigation and adaptation to combat climate change.
MOHAMED TOIHIRI ( Comoros) said that small island developing States, such as his, were seeing the disastrous effects of climate change everyday. One of the starkest reminders in Comoros was the increasing frequency of volcanic eruptions, which, until recently, only occurred once every 10 years. The Karthala Volcano, for example, had erupted regularly in recent years, and each eruption brought with it the inevitable humanitarian crises in its wake. Neighbouring island States were experiencing similar natural disasters, which threatened their economies and their very cultures.
He said that the future forecast was no better. According to recent studies, 65 per cent of his country’s total population was living in areas that would be severely affected by climate change, before 2050. The economic and social impact of that damage could not and should not be carried by those developing countries that had done little to contribute to the problem, but were already bearing the brunt of the consequences. International cooperation in key areas, such as technology transfer, early warning systems, financing and disaster management, were imperative. His Government had attempted to do its part by ratifying the Kyoto Protocol and pressing for innovative approaches to financing. He now called on the rest of the international community to step up and ensure that they also did their utmost to find a solution to that global problem.
RAYMOND O. WOLFE (Jamaica), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, the Alliance of Small Island States and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that events such as erosion and sea-level rise had caused a shift in focus from the development agenda to relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation. In the last three years alone, Jamaica had been hit by five major hurricanes, which had resulted in significant loss of life. Given those circumstances, implementing adaptation strategies was crucial, and, in that context, Jamaica had launched a programme to increase its use of renewable energy to 10 per cent of total energy by 2010.
In addition, he said, Jamaica was one of 10 countries in which a community-based adaptation project would be implemented under the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme. The Government had set out to achieve developed country status by 2030, in part, through a process of developing and transferring less carbon-intensive technologies. He fully supported calls for significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. He urged States to give high priority to providing new and additional financial resources to support the transfer of climate-friendly technologies. “By working together in a broad global alliance, we can confront -– and overcome -– our greatest challenges,” he said.
JAIME HERMIDA CASTILLO ( Nicaragua) said that, for developing countries, the fight against climate change was a fight for sustainable development and survival. Industrialized countries must make good on their obligations under the Kyoto Protocol and the Climate Change Convention to provide access to new financing mechanisms for technology transfer. Technology was needed for mitigation and adaptation, and to ensure sustainable development. Despite promises made under the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Monterrey Consensus, financing for development would remain a rhetorical exercise. There had been many compromises and promises, but also many lies. He called on all developed countries to meet their obligations and make available the necessary financial resources. Hundreds of millions of dollars would be needed in the next four decades for adaptation and mitigation. He expressed concern that the Adaptation Fund had only received 2 per cent of the funds given to the Clean Development Mechanism. Not only was the Adaptation Fund financed by a mechanism that allowed developed countries to avoid their obligation to reduce emissions, but it also resulted in developing countries providing funding for other developing countries.
He said he also opposed the imposition of climate change clauses in business relations, which had been proposed by some countries. That was a protectionist measure by industrialized countries, which would violate the rule of the World Trade Organization. Developing countries would not accept such terms. Industrialized countries must make good on their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and must not be allowed to take illegal and unjust unilateral measures against developing countries. In addition to reducing emissions and transferring technology, it was important, in terms of intellectual property rights, to allow developing countries access to environmentally sustainable technology, as soon as possible. The development of such technology to the level of development of generic pharmaceuticals should be seriously considered.
NEBOJSA KALUDJEROVIC ( Montenegro) said that both developed and developing countries had a responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and tackle the challenge of climate change, following the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. Montenegro had invested significant effort in ensuring environmentally sound social and economic development, through the establishment of a Designated National Authority for Clean Development Mechanism projects and the preparation of studies for the implementation of clean development projects in the field of energy, agriculture and transportation. Although national efforts were important, international partnerships among all stakeholders in the areas of mitigation, adaptation, financing and technology were of the utmost importance.
He said that the United Nations was in a unique position to assist Member States in developing integrated policies on mitigating and adapting to climate change. It could also strengthen the engagement of the private sector and help develop national capacities to access and utilize the resources needed to achieve sustainable growth. In developing its own national capacity, Montenegro had encountered several challenges, such as access to the technologies, information, skills and infrastructure needed to analyse and respond to climate change effects in the region. For developing countries, the Clean Development Mechanism was the key instrument for confronting the challenges of climate change, and the Adaptation Fund could provide additional momentum for improved implementation of the Kyoto Protocol.
ULLA STRÖM (Sweden), fully aligning herself with Slovenia’s statement on behalf of the European Union, recalled that to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 85 per cent by 2050, actions were needed now. However, that was only half the equation. As climate change was already occurring, countries needed to initiate actions to adapt to it. She emphasized three issues as countries prepared for the Copenhagen meeting. First, it was possible to combine reductions with economic growth. She urged placing a price on carbon, as the more countries involved in carbon trading, the more cost efficient the emissions reductions.
Second, climate change must be addressed in the context of the Millennium Development Goals, she said, noting that Sweden had established an international commission on “climate proofing” development assistance, which would contribute to United Nations efforts. The 13-member commission was a forum for policymakers to discuss how to design official development assistance in ways that took into account climate change and disaster risk reduction. It would also foster proposals for introducing such strategies into poverty reduction plans. Its focus areas included: the role of ecosystems in disaster prevention; urban slum areas; slow-onset disasters; and risk management mechanisms in the insurance industry. The issue was that climate change called for an integrated approach to environment, development and security. She called on the United Nations to address those related challenges in the nexus of sustainable development and security. In closing, she said mitigation and adaptation must be jointly addressed, even if country-level strategies to deal with them differed, and an effective and equitable post-2012 agreement on climate change must be the foremost priority over the next two years for the United Nations system.
AHMED AL-JARMAN ( United Arab Emirates) said that the United Nations was the most appropriate forum through which the international community could define ways to deal with climate change, and it played a critical role in proposing solutions on the basis of common but differentiated responsibilities. As a country whose economy depended primarily on fossil fuels, and as a strong supporter of the Bali road map and action plan, the United Arab Emirates was hopeful that further negotiations would result in a comprehensive convention that did not negatively impact the economies of developing countries, in particular, oil producing countries. His country continued to seek alternative sources of energy, and had recently launched one of the largest sustainable development programmes, with an initial investment of $15 billion in projects targeting solar power, hydrogen and wind power, carbon reduction and management.
He said that such initiatives represented only one element of a comprehensive national strategy to protect the environment without undermining programmes for development. Developed countries should shoulder their responsibilities in the global climate change crisis, fulfil past commitments and implement the recommendations of the international conferences and conventions related to the environment and sustainable development. Developing countries should be given the necessary support to facilitate their access to new technologies, so as to enhance their abilities to adapt and apply mitigation measures and to access clean, sustainable energy resources.
ENKHTSETSEG OCHIR ( Mongolia) said that States, big and small, affluent and poor, faced different challenges at home and in their regions. On climate change, countries must rise above such differences and place human survival at the top of the political agenda. Global climate had become less stable, and extreme weather events, such as drought, had contributed to crop failure, conflict and increased human suffering. That trend was “an avoidable catastrophe”, as the world lacked neither the financial resources nor the technological capacity to act. It was time to display genuine political will for building consensus on post-2012 action.
He said that widespread poverty and underdevelopment had limited developing countries’ ability to adapt to climate change. Making progress towards achieving the internationally agreed development goals meant that countries must fulfil their commitments under the Convention and the Protocol. Essential to any global adaptation strategy was increased financing and assistance for capacity-building in developing countries, and both the Convention’s financial mechanism and the Adaptation Fund should be scaled up. Also, effective partnerships should be built at local, national, regional and international levels. With that in mind, Mongolia had offered to host a North-East Asian summit on climate change this year.
ARMEN MARTIROSYAN ( Armenia) said that it was now very clear that the measures required to combat the effects of climate change must be equal to its urgency and potential damage. Armenia had been active on the issue since signing on to the Kyoto Protocol, operating a Climate Change Information Centre and participating in international initiatives.
He said his country had much to lose from climate change. With the projected changes, agricultural land could be reduced by 8 to 14 per cent through intensified desertification. For that reason, even though Armenia was not included among countries with emissions obligations, it was ready to voluntarily undertake responsibility for limitation, to make planet Earth a better and safer place to live for generations to come.
YURIY SERGEYEV ( Ukraine) proposed holding regular discussions on climate change within the Assembly and introducing a separate agenda item on that subject. At the national level, Ukraine attached great importance to the Kyoto Protocol and acted in accordance with the practice of joint implementation, applying the Clean Development Mechanism. It had approved a national action plan and introduced an inventory of annual greenhouse gas emissions. It was also considering cutting greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25 per cent by 2020. With reference to the carbon market, Ukraine planned to use the balance of the emissions quota (250 million tons of CO2 emissions annually) towards modernization and introduction of green technologies. Efforts were under way to promote renewable energy, biofuels and energy efficiency, but meeting those challenges required strengthened international cooperation.
He said that the post-2012 emissions regime should be flexible and diverse in nature, with due account of specific needs of States parties. It was important to strike a balance between the first and second commitment periods. Negotiations on a future agreement should be guided by the basic principles enshrined in the Climate Change Convention -– equity, common but differentiated responsibility, respective capability, cost-effectiveness and sustainable development. Among other measures, it was important to consider setting up an international technology transfer mechanism and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Donor and recipient countries alike should actively engage in that partnership initiative.
In conclusion, he reiterated Ukraine’s call for the creation of an organization, with universal membership, which would address environmental issues in a comprehensive way, serving as a mechanism for ecological responsibility and a system of international environmental security.
ZACHARY D. MUBURI-MUITA ( Kenya) said that the focus on climate change should not undermine efforts towards tackling other issues important to developing countries, such as sustained economic growth, financing for development, the Millennium Development Goals and poverty eradication. Climate change had already inflicted serious damage on Kenya because of increased floods, frequent droughts, reduced agricultural productivity and increased prevalence of malaria. The projected impact of unmitigated climate change was likely to have major implications on livelihoods, health, water resources, food security, ecosystems and tourism. All stakeholders should commit to mitigation and adaptation activities, in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and respective capabilities. Annex II parties should commit more financial and technological resources for adaptation, mitigation and capacity-building activities in developing countries.
He said his country had taken a pragmatic approach to policy and legislative activities to support sustainable management of natural resources, including forests and water resources. He was encouraged by international efforts through the climate change regime to support steps to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. While the United Nations had the network and the will to undertake a wide range of activities, it was important to design proposals with due attention to the existing technical, financial and human capacities within the United Nations system. Otherwise, it was possible that the debate could end up raising false hope among Member States and stakeholders, and ultimately causing undue frustration. Climate change required concerted, collective action at local, national and international levels. Individuals, civil society and the business community must work together to meaningfully address climate change.
ALI’IOAIGA FETURI ELISAIA ( Samoa) said the origins of climate change had been proven conclusively through real experiences and by science. The absence of solutions to reverse the negative impact of climate change was not the culprit. The culprit was the reluctance by some countries to be part of a unified, global solution. During the high-level debate, fellow Pacific island colleagues had already articulated the challenges facing some members of the Alliance of Small Island States and they had highlighted regional initiatives to put the Pacific’s house in order first. Climate change required a global solution and the United Nations was best suited for that purpose. The Organization should ensure that climate change was mainstreamed into its multifaceted agenda. Let climate change be the litmus test on how United Nations agencies could deliver optimally as one. No one stakeholder had a monopoly on ways to address climate change. Everyone, including the private and civil sectors, could make strategic contributions.
Access to adequate resources to fund mitigation and adaptation needs was an important challenge that must be addressed in order for modest efforts to have a lasting impact, he said. The decision in Bali to operationalize the Adaptation Fund was a positive step. He implored countries with the capacity and willingness to provide more resources to boost the Adaptation Fund. The launch in April of the Global Environment Facility’s Pacific Alliance for Sustainability was an innovative way to use the Facility’s resources for the islands’ mitigation and adaptation needs. Italy’s project to meet the Pacific region’s renewable energy requirements, including proposed partnerships with the Governments of Turkey, India, Iceland, Austria and Venezuela, were a testament to what partnerships could contribute to addressing a country’s needs on the ground. The decision by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to set up a climate change regional clearing house in the near future added strong impetus to Samoa’s national aspiration to make the country the true climate hub for the Pacific region.
JOHN MCNEE ( Canada) said his country was fully aware of the importance of having all major global emitters adopt meaningful and binding emission reduction commitments in any future international agreement on climate change. Canada was fully committed to reducing its absolute emissions of greenhouse gases between 60 and 70 per cent by 2050. It understood that technology played an integral role in addressing the climate change challenge in terms of mitigation and adaptation. The Bali action plan had endorsed enhanced action on technology development and transfer to support effort in the areas of mitigation and development, as a required pillar of any future agreement. Transition technologies were required to reduce energy demand and increase supply from cleaner fossil fuel use. Over the longer term, both existing and new clean technologies would need to be widely deployed in developing countries, and especially in emerging economic Powers with rapidly rising emissions, where the majority of future emissions growth was expected to occur. Public-private partnerships were vital in stimulating development and deployment of those technologies while reducing their costs.
He said that reducing greenhouse gases through mitigation and clean technology use was only part of the solution. Discussions on adaptation were of utmost importance, as well. Ensuring adequate adaptation measures was crucial, not only to a future climate change agreement, but also for the safety, well-being and very livelihoods of billions of people. Canada would continue to actively participate in the Nairobi Work Programme on Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change. He encouraged vulnerable countries to integrate climate change adaptation considerations into their national sustainable development and poverty reduction strategies.
ANDREI DAPKIUNAS ( Belarus) said it was the only country in the world anxiously awaiting ratification by the parties to the Kyoto Protocol of an amendment to its annex B. That amendment put Belarus on the list of countries that had voluntarily undertaken quantified emissions reduction commitments. Belarus’ commitment was in the highest tier. Notwithstanding several official requests by Belarus to expedite the ratification process, only three countries to date had ratified the amendment since its adoption by the Protocol Parties Conference 15 months ago. A total of 132 ratifications were needed. Attention to that issue by Member States and the Secretary-General could be a significant way to build intragovernmental trust and would be a testament to the international community’s ability to take timely and collective action to prevent climate change. Further delay on the issue would cast doubts about the real degree of Member States’ concern about, and resolve to address, climate change.
The United Nations should create a mechanism to facilitate development of technologies and ensure wider access of developing countries and countries with economies in transition to new and emerging technologies in renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy conservation, he said. The Secretary-General and UNDP should consider practical ways to enhance United Nations capacity at the regional and national levels, in terms of their expertise in joint development and in their ability to help transfer environmental, energy and sustainable development technologies. The most advanced technologies in new and renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy conservation should become the common property of mankind. The General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council could play a key role in that process.
JAIRO MONTOYA (Colombia), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that the United Nations should focus on supporting effective implementation of the intergovernmental decisions agreed in the context of the Climate Change Convention and the Kyoto Protocol. It was worth examining the role of groups such as UN-Energy, UN-Water and UN-Oceans, and Colombia recognized the importance of identifying opportunities for further contributions from the United Nations system in such fields.
He said that United Nations organizations must observe five basic conditions: ensuring consistency with the Convention; limiting activities to their respective mandates; making contributions with an awareness of their comparative advantages; avoiding competition for resources; and acting with a development-based approach. While United Nations actions on climate change should be in line with those for achieving internationally agreed development goals, they should also be compatible with developing country priorities. Support should focus on national capacity-building, which was also relevant in the development of south-south cooperation. Promoting favourable international conditions for developing countries to implement measures was equally important, for which the adequate flow of resources to finance adaptation activities was key. On partnerships, he highlighted the Global Compact. The only way to “deliver as one” was by tackling the central issues of the development challenge.
ROSEMARY BANKS ( New Zealand) said that addressing climate change in the context of development required greater harmonization of donor efforts with developing country plans, as encouraged by the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. Towards that goal, she welcomed the efforts of Pacific leaders in mainstreaming adaptation strategies into national development plans. While her country was responsible for only a minute amount of emissions, she believed it could make a contribution to mitigation efforts.
New Zealand, she said, was developing a comprehensive emissions trading scheme, covering every sector of the economy, including agriculture and forestry, and six gases, not just CO2. She hoped that other countries could find that to be a useful model. In other areas, New Zealand’s involvement in partnerships with scientists, researchers, policymakers and local government was also indicative of the range of collaborative efforts needed to address climate change. She sensed a growing confidence among all stakeholders that such tangible actions, done in the context of the Climate Change Convention and Kyoto Protocol negotiations, could address the challenges posed by climate change.
Mr. HIRSH ( Norway) said the situation was serious and action was needed now. Although the Bali plan of action had been agreed upon, it was not ambitious enough. The fact that the greatest burden of global warming would be on the poor, who had the least responsibility for the current state of affairs, made climate change a central issue of justice and ethics. Industrialized countries, therefore, needed to take the lead in the effort to tackle climate change, but all countries must be on board and do what they could, in accordance with their capabilities. Norway had decided to cut its global emissions equivalent to 100 per cent of its own emissions by 2030, so that by then the country would become carbon neutral.
He said that, according to the International Energy Agency, the use of carbon capture and storage in the industrial, fuel transformation and power generation sectors could account for 20 to 28 per cent of CO2 emissions savings. Norway was, therefore, strongly committed to developing carbon capture and storage technologies. In order to bring reduced emissions by halting deforestation and forest degradation, his country would support efforts in that regard with $500 million per year. A major push for technologies was needed, as well. Rapid technological progress, as well as the rapid transfer of such technology, was vital for achieving sustainable development.
JEEM LIPPWE ( Federated States of Micronesia) said that, in recent years, the people in Micronesia had witnessed the consequences associated with climate change in the form of more intense and stronger storms, higher tides and wave surges that had caused damage to their subsistence agriculture and fishing, as well as to marine and terrestrial species, including coral reefs. Extreme weather conditions had caused droughts, destroyed crops, contaminated water wells and eroded beaches. “If climate change continues at this pace, we might be forced to abandon our islands,” he said.
He said his country had already adopted mitigation and adaptation measures in its infrastructure and strategic development plans, such as protection of mangrove areas, coastal beaches and climate proofing. That was as much as could be done, given the financial resources. “Being a federation of islands, situated only a few metres above sea level, how can we defend ourselves against rising sea levels,” he asked. Building sea walls around every island would not only mean a huge investment, it was also impractical. Everybody was responsible for the future of Earth. Engaging actively in the prevention of climate change was a moral obligation that all should be willing to fulfil. There was a need to collectively find a way to prevent further damage to the planet by cooperation and communication.
MELANIE SANTIZO-SANDOVAL (Guatemala), associated herself with the remarks made by Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and said that Latin America only emitted around 5 per cent of greenhouse gasses, but suffered disproportionately from some of the worst effects of climate change. To mitigate those effects, United Nations Member States must figure out how best they could support the Climate Change Convention. Protection of forests and support for adaptation were crucial elements.
There would be a Central American summit in April that would develop a regional adaptation plan and strategies for climate-friendly development. All such debates, under the framework of the Convention, must lead to actions to fulfil the common but differentiated responsibilities to which the world had committed itself.
TIRTHA RAJ WAGLE ( Nepal) emphasized the importance of partnerships and cooperation among Governments, the United Nations, development agencies, non-governmental organizations, civil society and the private sector in creating sustainable development for the future. Common efforts should take place under United Nations frameworks, specifically the Climate Change Convention. On a national level, Nepal had promoted climate change issues within national development strategies and had encouraged the expansion of alternate and renewable sources of energy. The depletion of Nepal’s glaciers threatened water resources and caused unpredictable flooding and urgent action was imperative to help Nepal and other countries suffering similar problems.
The international community had a responsibility to help Nepal and other developing countries to improve their early warning systems and increase the availability of scientific information, he continued. The United Nations had been effective in the past in supporting adaptation and mitigation efforts at the country level, but greater attention should be given in the future at providing sustained, swift and substantial financial and technical assistance to the least developed countries, poor mountainous countries and small island developing States. The international community should continue to link climate change to the sustainable development agenda, with special attention to creating overall human development opportunities for poor and vulnerable communities. In conclusion, he said there was no other option but to draw up a concrete, multilateral action plan with binding targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and to immediately make affordable technological solutions available to developing countries.
S. ASLOV ( Tajikistan) said that the situation in his country bore out the warning that adaptation was inevitable, given ongoing climate changes. Severe cold had been followed by unusually heavy snowstorms, never seen in the past 50 years. Industry was suspended, almost all winter crops were affected and severe damage was done to fruit trees and vineyards. He expressed gratitude to United Nations agencies, as well as to a number of Member States, for their assistance and support in the wake of that damage.
Climate change and development were indeed parts of the same agenda, he said. He stressed that the increasing problem of a lack of adequate freshwater was an important component of that nexus. A high-level event or special session of the General Assembly should, therefore, be held on water supply issues. Another important component was natural disaster mitigation. He called for enhanced international cooperation in that area, and for adequate participation in the forthcoming International Conference on Water-Related Natural Disasters Reduction in Dushanbe, in June.
BATURE LAWAL ( Nigeria) said that, in addressing the adverse effects of climate change, his country had equally mainstreamed its mitigation and adaptation strategies with developmental policies aimed at significantly reducing carbon emissions and sustaining the campaign against desertification and soil degradation. It had established a national Environment Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency and continued to draw attention to Lake Chad, which was rapidly drying up. The daunting challenge for developing countries was how to mainstream measures to address climate change, without compromising the development agenda. Measures to address climate change and sustainable development strategies should be mutually reinforcing. The United Nations system had the expertise to assist developing countries with the necessary scientific and technical information and capacity-building. It could also assist in sourcing new and renewable energies -- such as solar power, wind energy and hydropower -- at affordable cost. Production of biofuels should be treated with caution in cases where it could threaten food security.
He said many were weary of carbon capture and storage technologies. The United Nations system should, therefore, launch an awareness campaign aimed at simplifying the mechanisms, as well as allaying fears of some developing countries on the safety and viability of the technology. One serious impediment to transfer of technologies to developing countries was the issue of intellectual property rights. One suggestion was to have aid-for-technology transfers, in which developed countries provide incentives to their multinational companies so that developing countries could use patented technologies at an affordable cost. Also, Africa was disadvantaged in the issue of equitable distribution of the Adaptation Fund and capacity-building. An important initiative, which could be vigorously promoted by the United Nations system, was the Strategic Investment Programme for Sustainable Land Management in Sub-Sahara Africa. That initiative was being coordinated by the Global Environment Facility and the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment. About $1 billion was to be raised to rehabilitate damaged and degraded lands. It was, therefore, pertinent for all the relevant United Nations agencies, working in a coordinated manner, to ensure the success of that laudable initiative.
ALPHA IBRAHIMA SOW ( Guinea) said that, by placing climate change at the centre of the political agenda, the international community had reaffirmed its determination to face that global challenge with both individual and collective responses. For Guinea, climate change was both an issue of peace and security and of sustainable development. Without urgent action, the Millennium Development Goals would never be attained and Guineans would be “condemned to misery and poverty”. He sought international support for developing countries’ efforts in the areas of adaptation, mitigation, capacity-building, financing and technology.
He said that now was the time to move beyond discussion towards clear and concrete partnerships and action. The implementation of a global accord based on common but differentiated responsibilities was necessary, and the international community should focus on mobilizing the financial, technical and institutional support such an agreement needed. The numerous national, bilateral and multilateral initiatives launched by various stakeholders to help reduce poverty and improve the living conditions of poor and vulnerable communities were greatly appreciated, but more needed to be done; a shared vision and global action by all stakeholders was the only way to successfully tackle climate change.
PAULETTE BETHEL ( Bahamas) supported statements made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, AOSIS and CARICOM. She said her country was extremely vulnerable to climate change and was now facing inundation from storm surges, depletion of fragile water resources, erosion and further land degradation. The United Nations had a central role in supporting global efforts to counter those threats and providing policy direction to support the Bali plan. In that context, she would welcome the strengthening of UNDP, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the small island developing States unit and other parts of the United Nations system in their efforts to assist national adaptation and sustainable development, in general.
The Bahamas had initiated national policies, but the problems were so severe that some of the smaller islands might have to be abandoned, she said. International assistance, including new and additional financial resources and access to scientific and technological solutions, was sorely needed. Such assistance, she hoped, could be garnered through the work of the ad hoc working group on further commitments for annex I parties under the Protocol. She also welcomed the operationalizing of the Adaptation Fund and the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility, in that regard.
SOMDUTH SOBORUN ( Mauritius) said that undoubtedly the United Nations remained the best-placed organization to deal with climate change, but it must be stressed that all its strategies and activities on the issue and related ones should be coordinated in a coherent manner, so as to “deliver as one”. The time was already late to tackle the problems presented by climate change; it was imperative to hammer out an agreement well before 2009 to reach a timely post-Kyoto agreement. In that context, it was important to refrain from overloading the agenda of the Bali plan.
Enumerating the threats facing the small island developing States, he supported targeted United Nations actions to assist all developing countries in the implementation of national adaptation and mitigation strategies, in the context of sustainable development and cleaner economic growth. He also reiterated the call for a special small island developing States fund parallel to the Special Fund for least developed countries under the Global Environment Facility. Funding should be based on vulnerability and the level of urgency for adaptation. In acknowledging that the planet was in peril, it was crucial to build partnerships with all stakeholders, on the agreed principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.
DELANO BART ( Saint Kitts and Nevis) said, though it was evident that some States were ready to do much to combat climate change, the commitment of other States was not yet clear. For his Government, it was no longer a question of addressing the threat of climate change, but rather the consequences. Rainfall in Saint Kitts and Nevis was unpredictable and flooding was eroding the topsoil in the region and threatening food security. Water resources in the country were stretched to great limits and the main engine of growth, tourism, was now in jeopardy.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions was the only way to stem the overall warming of the planet brought on by activities induced by mankind, he said. Such efforts were the responsibility of all nations, both developing and developed. Ignoring those responsibilities would have disastrous effects and there was a moral imperative for all States to join in partnership to find a solution. The partnership of industrialized countries was vital to finding a solution and adequate finances need to flow from those countries to the developing world to address the issues of mitigation and adaptation. Action did not need to wait until the end of negotiations and, to that end, Saint Kitts and Nevis sought support in examining alternative sources of energy in its region. He concluded by underlining the need for all nations to be proactive in the implementation of strategies to mitigate the “impending disaster”.
PETER MAURER ( Switzerland) urged Member States to integrate climate change priorities into the broader work of the United Nations and all its agencies. Answering scientific questions regarding climate change analysis, research and evaluation should also be a priority for the specialized bodies of the United Nations and should be taken into consideration when discussing the wider question of development within the United Nations. In order for the Organization to take on that work, Member States needed to provide it with the adequate resources to allow it to fully develop and support the various national and international initiatives on climate change.
In the immediate future, the United Nations should insist on full follow-up on the action plan developed in Bali, he continued. It should also work towards the systematic integration of adaptation programmes and strategies into national development plans, in an effort to better reinforce national capacity and support the most vulnerable communities of the world. Finally, he urged the United Nations to fully support the 2009 World Conference on Climate, which would help define the path forward on climate change.
RODRIGO RIOFRIO ( Ecuador) called on developed countries to make good on their commitment to take steps to help developing countries mitigate the impact of climate change. Ecuador contributed less than 1 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. But, in recent years, it had suffered severe natural disasters due to climate change. At present, certain zones of the country, especially along the coastline, had been declared emergency areas, due to serious floods resulting from torrential rains. Climate change affected everyone. It knew no boundaries and affected developed and developing countries alike. Ecuador accepted the principle of shared responsibility and had presented several months ago an international initiative to not exploit certain parts of the ITT-Yasuni petroleum field. Exploitation of the ITT-Yasuni field represented 100,000 million barrels of crude oil production and $720 million in profit annually for Ecuador. That production would last 13 years. The proposed initiative would require Ecuador to not exploit close to 920 million barrels of existing petroleum in Yasuni, a highly diverse ecological zone.
To balance out that economic sacrifice, Ecuador called on the international community to participate in the initiative by creating an ITT-Yasuni trust fund, to which it would give $5 for every barrel of oil that was not exploited, he said. The total amount provided by the international community to the fund would be approximately $4.6 billion, which would be used to implement Ecuador’s National Development Plan. That would involve diversification of energy resources, as well as development and investment in tourism and in integral public health, education and environmental conservation programmes. That was an initiative of a small country whose economy depended on petroleum exploitation. He called on the international community to support the initiative as an innovative, creative and humane proposal to mitigate climate change.
HUGO SILES-ALVARADO ( Bolivia) said overproduction of industry in consumer societies, coupled with those societies’ irrational and insatiable demand for energy, had unleashed an unstoppable level of overexploitation of non-renewable resources, deforestation and contamination of rivers, air and land. Excessive demand for energy had caused some countries to use millions of hectares of cultivatable land to grow corn, sugar cane and other products used to make biofuels for millions of automobiles. At times it was necessary to ask if climate change was more dangerous to human beings, or if the insensitivity of people who had everything was in fact more dangerous. Climate change was the result of excessive demand and waste of energy and consumer goods in developed countries. Bolivia, and other countries that had never greatly benefited from scientific and technological development nor had contributed to pollution, were forced to suffer the consequences of climate change.
Paradoxically, the countries most responsible for climate change had decided that everyone must share responsibility for adaptation and mitigation, he said. For two consecutive years, Bolivia had suffered from devastating rains and floods that threatened the integrity, security and health of thousands of people, due to the extreme cold and hot air masses that had swept across South America. Last year, Bolivia, with Venezuela’s assistance, built a dyke to prevent floods from destroying the city of Trinidad. Still, the water level was too high and could not be contained, proof that adaptation measures had been insufficient and that it was now impossible to prevent increased climate change. Least developed countries lacked the necessary technology to implement adaptation and mitigation programmes. That technology should be made available to least developed countries immediately and free of charge. The least that countries most responsible for environmental pollution could do was to provide the technology needed to address the challenges of mitigation and adaptation.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER ( Liechtenstein) said that climate change was a unique challenge to the United Nations system. Though much had been achieved already, much more must follow since climate change was not just an environmental issue, but an issue of sustainable development as well. Climate change had the potential to exacerbate existing security threats, and it threatened to create new ones. Thus, it should remain a top priority for the United Nations in its work.
He said that the United Nations could make an important contribution to shaping a cohesive response to climate change and the challenge of international environmental governance. An inclusive and coherent approach was required to tackle all key areas of action: mitigation, adaptation, technology, financing and deforestation. Financing and technology rightfully occupied the central space in the framework agreed at Bali. Creative financing mechanisms were necessary, but it was important to note that there would be no technological answer to the complex challenge posed by climate change. Sustained political will, increased global awareness and key partnerships among all stakeholders would have the strongest, catalytic effect.
MARTIN GARCÍA MORITÁN ( Argentina) said the United Nations should support the negotiation process in the next two years in accordance with the Bali action plan to create a multilateral accord aimed at addressing climate change without infringing on the legitimate right of non-annex I countries to sustainable development. All industrialized countries should make stricter commitments than those established in the Kyoto Protocol. Developing countries must also participate, including by creating criteria tailored to the circumstances and capacities of their respective countries. Non-annex I countries should adopt sustainable development policies and measures that would contribute to mitigation and adaptation. Nevertheless, the lack of sufficient resources made it difficult for them to implement such measures. Developing countries’ actions should be supported appropriately through international cooperation in research, analysis, technology transfer and financing.
Some United Nations entities already supported efforts to address climate change, but greater steps were needed to assist developing countries, he said. Improved multilateral cooperation was crucial for mitigation and adaptation. Developed countries had made commitments under the Climate Change Convention to provide financial resources, capacity-building and technology transfer to help developing countries implement their respective commitments. It was time to honour those commitments. Developing countries had contributed the least to climate change, while developed countries had enjoyed the high levels of consumption that had led to climate change. Developing countries were “environmental creditors” of developed countries. That situation had created a moral and environmental debt that must be repaid to resolve the inequities resulting from climate change.
JEAN-MARIE EHOUZOU ( Benin) said that solutions to the problems posed by climate change should be based on international solidarity, the spirit of sharing and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. Recent technological advances offered countries the opportunity to expand the use of clean and renewable energy sources. It was regrettable, therefore, that those technologies were not being made easily available to vulnerable populations lacking the necessary financial resources. The time had come to make those technologies available, along with the necessary financial resources to allow vulnerable communities to adapt to the ill effects of climate change.
He said that doing so would require the political will of all nations and an international commitment to sustainable development. It would require a synergistic approach to the integration of climate change strategies in national action plans, as well as a synergistic approach to resource sharing. The Adaptation Fund was a welcome first step in sharing resources. Looking to the future, the United Nations should guide the development of information-sharing resources while, at the same time, mobilizing the resources to which Member States had already committed, and finding innovative ways to bring in new commitments.
CELESTINO MIGLIORE, Observer of the Holy See, assured the Holy See’s collaboration towards achieving the objectives set in Bali. The personal commitment and numerous public appeals of Pope Benedict XVI had generated awareness campaigns for a renewed sense of respect and need to safeguard God’s creation. Individuals and communities had started to change their lifestyles, aware that personal and collective behaviour impacted on the climate and the environment’s overall health. Every effort to reduce or offset one’s carbon footprint helped mitigate environmental decay and concretely showed a commitment to environmental care. The Holy See had already taken measures to reduce and offset the carbon emission of the Vatican City State, such as using solar panels and planting trees. Its involvement in a reforestation project in Hungary would help restore environmentally degraded tracts of land and provide local jobs.
It was incumbent upon every individual and every nation to seriously assume responsibility to find and implement the most balanced approach possible to that challenge, he said. Sustainable development provided the key to a strategy that harmoniously took into account the demands of environmental preservation, climate change, economic development and basic human needs. The use of clean technologies was an important component of sustainable development. Highly industrialized countries should share their more advanced and cleaner technologies with developing countries in order to help the latter avoid the errors that others committed in the past. Pooling resources made mitigation and adaptation initiatives economically accessible to most, thus assisting those less equipped to pursue development, while safeguarding the environment. Markets must be encouraged to patronize “green economics” and not to sustain demand for goods whose very production caused environmental degradation. Consumers must be aware that their consumption patterns directly impacted the health of the environment.
RAYMOND FORDE, Vice-President, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said that IFRC’s thirtieth international conference, held last November, had adopted a declaration –- “Together for Humanity” -– which had identified the humanitarian consequences of environmental degradation and climate change as one of the major challenges facing the international community. That declaration envisaged Governments meeting with their national society to establish what they could do together to combat the effects of global warming. He said that IFRC’s national counterparts were committed to doing their part and some had already engaged their Governments on defining roles and responsibilities. He urged all Governments to take the opportunity IFRC’s consensus provided to make a real difference, especially in the area of adaptation measures.
In anticipation of broad Government response, IFRC had worked with the Netherlands Red Cross to establish the Red Cross and Red Crescent Climate Centre in The Hague in 2002. Since then, IFRC had used the Centre’s expertise and resources to contribute to a larger number of international meetings and events worldwide, using that experience to build national action on humanitarian consequences in selected countries. He said that IFRC had also established partnerships with global and regional organizations to address disaster risk preparedness. IFRC would also continue to give high priority to those with the greatest needs, especially the small island developing States and least developed countries and landlocked developing countries. He added, finally, that IFRC believed that adaptation measures must receive targeted funding and not be seen as competing with regular development funding.
DIANE JUMET, Special Adviser, Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization, applauded recent steps forward on climate change made by Member States and private sector groups, such as the comprehensive energy policy recently adopted by the European Commission and the “environmentally-friendly” policies adopted by numerous private businesses. Reducing consumption was an important and necessary measure, though investment in research and development of new technologies could provide a greater benefit overall. Similarly, the sharing and transfer of technology was a “moral imperative and a laudable goal”. Yet, it was impossible to share what did not exist and there was, therefore, an urgent need for more efficient renewable energy sources and for clean coal burning technologies.
In the absence of acceptable technologies, she continued, it was impossible to expect developing countries to put development on hold until science caught up with developmental needs. As the world’s most representative intergovernmental forum, the United Nations could make the most effective contribution to the debate on climate change and the promotion of cooperation and information sharing among all parties. As a starting point, Member States should immediately implement existing climate change treaties through national and local legislation and should promote the dissemination and sharing of information.
ANDA FILIP, Inter-Parliamentary Union, said the global understanding that human beings were responsible for the damage to their environment had opened a new chapter in the world’s realization that something needed to be done urgently. Legislatures were a vital part of that process, since parliaments could ensure that the necessary resources were made available and could forge the laws, frameworks and incentives to allow business, industry and other actors to achieve deep and necessary emissions cuts. Following the Bali parliamentary declaration, many parliamentarians raised the climate change issue in their respective parliaments and the response in many countries, such as Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and Belarus, was very positive.
However, parliaments alone could not save the world from its own extinction by greenhouse gases, he warned. Such action would require the building of critical partnerships among Governments, civil society and the private sector, which would be supported by parliaments that would lay the legal foundations necessary for such partnerships to work. Parliaments had critical roles to play in providing leadership, fostering better understanding through knowledge sharing, strengthening national support for the transfer of technologies and capacity-building. Internationally, the Inter-Parliamentary Union would seek to compile a list of best practices and would work with the scientific community to forge a shared understanding of what was practical and workable in societies, especially poor ones. Finally, those findings would be shared in the international arena to help guide progress and the development of “win-win solutions”.
ANKE STRAUSS, Liaison Officer, International Organization for Migration, said that both gradual climate change and natural disasters would put the world’s inhabitants at risk, especially indigenous peoples living in costal regions, on low-lying islands, and in areas susceptible to drought, and might force them to move to safer areas. While no consensus existed as to whether migration could be considered as a means of adaptation -– or as a failure of adaptation strategies -– it was nevertheless often a survival mechanism for those affected. The implications of the climate change-migration nexus for human vulnerability, including the potential for sparking new -- or reigniting old -- conflicts, had yet to receive sufficient attention from policymakers and researchers.
She said that her organization was currently promoting such dialogue and believed that, in order to address the nexus effectively, Governments and other stakeholders needed to address a number of broad policy challenges, including, among others, finding ways to enter into and maintain broad, multi-stakeholder dialogue and cooperation, begin early planning to address migratory consequences and causes of environmental change, leverage the development potential of migration as an adaptation strategy and improve capacity-building and awareness-raising. She also reiterated the critical importance of research, and noted, by example, that the United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security, the International Organization for Migration and the Munich Re Insurance Company were organizing an expert group discussion among researchers “towards a global agenda for research on migration and the environment”.
NARINDER KAKAR, Permanent Observer of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), said that it was important to recognize that, although climate change would affect us all, it was the poor and vulnerable that would be most severely affected. The international community’s actions, therefore, must be rooted in sustainable development and equity, and recognize the vulnerability of poor people, the need for economic growth and poverty alleviation and a comprehensive approach to sustainable development. The Union’s own work on climate change focused on the links between climate change, equity and biodiversity, and the opportunities and challenges those links presented for mitigating and adapting to the phenomenon.
Turning to the role of the United Nations, he said that the Organization and its funds and programmes should ensure that all stakeholders were involved in the design of the new framework for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation in developing counties (REDD). The Union welcomed the decision at the Bali conference regarding the integration of “REDD” in a post-2012 agreement. The new “REDD” framework should, among other elements, be integrated into a broader strategy focused on securing deeper reductions of emissions for the use of fossil fuels, rather than simply offsetting carbon emissions. The United Nations should ensure that the negotiating parties from developing countries were provided with adequate technical support and linguistic services to allow them to take part in the process.
ROBERT L. SHAFER, Sovereign Military Order of Malta, said climate change was as much an issue of economic development as one of global justice and equality. Inaction would have serious social and economic implications and would magnify the existing inequalities between developed and developing countries. It would also exacerbate the occurrences of infectious diseases that would, in turn, lead to increasing levels of poverty. The United Nations should strengthen public health planning capacities, including improved monitoring and evaluation of climate and health impacts. It should also strengthen the health-care systems themselves, to enable them to provide protection from climate-related health risks and adopt a more preventative approach to health protection.
The challenge of climate change required individual and collective responses that were intelligent, ambitious, and able to discover the Earth’s productive potential in an environmentally sustainable way, he said. The United Nations should facilitate the development of such responses. In doing so, it should draw on its strengths as a neutral forum for brokering negotiations, galvanizing high-level political support and securing participation, engagement and ownership by a broad constituency of members. Cultivating and nurturing sensitivity to climate change issues through renewed education and solidarity would provide the necessary motivation to stem the tide of environmental destruction and preserve a viable home for future generations.
FERNANDO VALENZUELA, European Commission, said that a new framework must be agreed before the current international commitments ran out under the Kyoto Protocol in 2012. That required, first and foremost, strong political will from the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters. For its part, the European Union’s objective was to limit the rise in average global temperatures to two degrees above pre-industrial levels.
To send a clear message to its partners around the globe, the European Union took an independent commitment to reduce its emissions relative to 1990 levels by at least 20 per cent by the year 2020, and by as much as 30 per cent as part of a global agreement, where all developed countries commit to comparable efforts and where developing countries contributed further. He went on to say that, late last month, the Commission had presented the legislative Climate Action and Renewable Energy Package, which would help the Union to achieve sharp cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and a major increase in renewables, with a combination of cost-effective action through the carbon market and a fair sharing of the effort between its member States.
Closing Statement by General Assembly President
SRGJAN KERIM (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), President of the United Nations General Assembly, closed the debate by noting that 115 delegations had spoken, which was a testament to the importance of taking immediate practical action to address climate change. During the three-day event, the Assembly had heard compelling reasons why the United Nations should promote integrated partnerships and approaches with all interested stakeholders, particularly the private sector and local authorities, to successfully overcome climate change’s threat to the international community’s way of life. Individuals should not feel disempowered by the scale of the challenge. Small contributions added up. Many speakers had made the case that everyone could make a difference through simple changes to daily behaviour.
There was a general conviction that had emerged from the debate that actions necessary to address climate change were so intertwined that they could only be tackled through combined efforts, he said. “Long-term targets to reduce carbon emission must go hand in hand with adapting to the global warming that is already taking place, and which could accelerate. Why? Because we want more growth, more development, but must also secure our planet and safeguard our future,” he said. During the debate, there had been no doubt among Member States about the nexus of relations between climate change and sustainable development.
The United Nations Secretariat, he said, must now respond by developing policy solutions that could help Member States answer some of the questions posed during the debate. That would require a better understanding of how to mainstream climate change into nationally-owned development strategies, as well as clearer advice about how to prepare for a strengthened United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change regime, in particular clearer guidance to facilitate access to financial resources and investments. It would also require more comprehensive proposals on how to achieve coherence and promote synergies within the United Nations system in order to close the implementation gap; knowledge on how the United Nations could most effectively stimulate financial flows for adaptation, mitigation and climate-resilient development; and knowledge on how the United Nations system could best support developing countries to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change.
“The challenge now is to implement the policies globally that can create low-carbon economies which promote sustainable economic growth and provide incentives for individuals to change behaviour,” he said, adding that Member States, regional and multilateral organizations must, therefore, develop stronger, more mutually supportive partnerships with the private sector. The United Nations, through the Global Compact, already had a head start in promoting more ethical corporate leadership worldwide.
He said that it was clear that, when leading global businessmen, like Sir Richard Branson, and New York’s Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, were willing to throw their weight behind the General Assembly, the private sector and local governments took the issue extremely seriously. And more importantly, they recognized the contribution that the Organization and its Member States could make. “By bringing in business creativity and innovation, we have a real opportunity to create a virtuous circle whereby Member States –- providing market incentives and a clear enabling framework for the private sector -- bolster confidence in green investment over the long term,” he asserted.
He went on to say that developed countries were increasingly demonstrating their willingness to provide fresh financing and to enhance the critical roles played by the international financial institutions and the private sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That was key, because the importance of accelerating technology transfers to developing countries and securing sufficient financing for adaptation and mitigation could not be underestimated.
In that regard, the General Assembly had sent a clear signal to the World Bank and the donor community to scale up investment in developing countries and to support national and international efforts to address climate change. The United Nations had a significant role to play in facilitating the climate change initiatives of Member States, while raising global awareness, generating broad-based support and providing the technical cooperation needed to ensure the full implementation of existing and future agreements under the Climate Change Convention. To support that process, Member States needed to work speedily and cooperatively to build consensus on a strategic policy framework that would steer future United Nations activities on climate change.
The thematic debate had demonstrated a general understanding that further work was necessary and, as such, a more detailed briefing on efforts to strengthen and coordinate United Nations activities on climate change would be provided to the Assembly in due time. Furthermore, he expressed his intention to convene two additional meetings to consider the concerns of vulnerable countries and corporate responsibility and sustainability in more detail.
* *** *For information media • not an official record