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Press Conference on Final Report of Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing

5 November 2010
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on Final Report of Advisory group on Climate Change Financing

Raising the $100 billion needed annually to help developing countries adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change would require a mix of new public sources, a scaling-up of existing public sources and more private flows, the Co-Chairs of an expert group charged with analysing options to meet that goal said today as they formally presented their findings to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“We will need sustained political will, appropriate policy signals for the markets and financial ingenuity,” said the Secretary-General at a Headquarters press conference as he accepted the final report of his High-Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing.  He established the Advisory Group earlier this year to identify new, innovative and additional financing sources to meet, by 2020, the annual goal set by industrialized countries at the meeting of States parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen last December.  (The Secretary-General’s opening remarks are issued as Press Release SG/SM/13232.)

Prime Ministers Jens Stoltenberg of Norway and Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, speaking as Co-Chairs of the High-Level Advisory Group, said meeting that goal by 2020 would be a “challenging but feasible” task.  Placing a $20 to $25 per ton price on carbon would be a key ingredient for success, they added.

Mr. Zenawi, who joined the press conference by videolink from Addis Ababa, said that while it had been challenging for officials from developed and developing nations to come up with an agreed document, they had successfully accomplished their objective.  Financing options had been analysed against a set of comprehensive criteria and chosen in part because of the ease in making use of them.

The report, he said, could be used to craft an ambitious deal or a “weak and miserly” one.  Or, it could just be left to languish in the desks of Government bureaucrats.  The outcome would depend on the political will of leaders everywhere, especially in advanced countries.

Africans had contributed virtually nothing to the damage, but would suffer the most from climate change caused by others.  “We’re not asking for handouts from anybody,” he stressed.  “We’re asking those that created the problem partially make amends for Africa’s loss.”  It was an issue of “sanity and justice”, the prospects for which did not appear good.  But he refused to believe that leaders lacked foresight to do what was right.  He believed the report would be put to good use.

Mr. Stoltenberg said that without agreement on financing, agreement on other issues would not be achieved.  Climate financing involved “burden sharing”, balancing economic responsibilities and creating an atmosphere of trust between developed and developing countries.  Placing a price on carbon would have a “double positive” effect by creating incentives to cut emissions, providing a way to mobilize revenue that could be used for adaptation and mitigation measures.

New public instruments could mobilize hundreds of billions of dollars annually, he said.  Auctioning emissions allowances, for example, could raise $30 annually, while other instruments, like redeployment of fossil fuel subsidies, could mobilize $10 billion per year.  While climate-friendly private investments would finance most of the growth, multilateral development banks and the United Nations also could play a significant role.

“There is no silver bullet, no one-size-fits-all solution,” Secretary-General Ban added.  The report compiled by his Advisory Group contained options that were financially feasible and politically viable.  It came three weeks ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, and was being shared with all Parties with a view to assisting — and speeding — negotiations on financing, among the most difficult areas for agreement.

Taking a question on how to generate the political motivation for climate change financing, the Secretary-General agreed that the goal required “extraordinary” political will.  He would spare no effort to urge States to agree.  However, there was a trust gap, which was why negotiations had not progressed.  The shortest way to bridge that gap was through providing financial support so that developing countries could adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Mr. Stoltenberg, asked on how the Advisory Group had decided on its financing options, said proposals were measured against criteria such as political feasibility.  The main conclusion underlined the importance of carbon-related measures, as they both reduced emissions and generated revenue which could then be allocated to developing countries.  It would be up to Governments to take decisions.

Mr. Zenawi added that the report’s intended targets included civil society and the media.  “We need to build political consensus” to ensure political leaders acted responsibly.

Asked about carbon pricing in international transport, Mr. Stoltenberg said the International Maritime Organization (IMO) was working on various schemes, through emissions trading, or placing a tax on each ton of carbon emitted.  Something similar was being examined for aviation.  “This is more realistic than people believe,” he said, noting that from 1 January 2013, there would be a system of carbon pricing applied to all aviation traffic.  “It is possible.”

To a question on why he had not raised the issue of human rights during his recent trip to Asia, the Secretary-General said: “We shine the light on human rights everywhere;” something he had been doing for four years.  During his recent trip to Asia, he had spoken about human rights with Cambodia, Viet Nam and Myanmar on the margins of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-United Nations Summit.

In China, he had visited Nanjing, where he had stressed that countries cooperated best when they did so on shared values.  In Shanghai, he had emphasized the importance of academic freedom, and in Beijing, he had discussed the right to freedom of expression and defence of human rights defenders.  The Secretary-General said he would remain in touch with Chinese leaders on those issues.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.