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Climate change ‘defining issue of our era,’ says Ban Ki-moon, hailing G8 action

Climate change ‘defining issue of our era,’ says Ban Ki-moon, hailing G8 action

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called climate change a “defining issue of our era,” and welcomed the agreement by the world’s richest nations to address the threat as an “important first step.”

Speaking at a press conference in Heiligendamm, Germany, where the leaders of the “Group of Eight” leading industrialized nations met this week for their annual summit, Mr. Ban said climate change was “the main reason I came here.”

The agreement by G8 leaders on “strong and early action” to combat climate change, and to pursue related negotiations under UN auspices, is “only a first step – a beginning, not an end,” the Secretary-General stated.

Political will at the highest level is “desperately” needed now to make significant emissions reductions and to help countries adapt to climate change, Mr. Ban said. “On both, we will need leadership by the G8 countries.”

To facilitate further discussion on the issue, Mr. Ban announced he will convene a special high-level meeting in New York on climate change on 24 September, just ahead of the opening of this year’s annual debate of Heads of State and Government.

Also today, Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Climate Change Convention, welcomed the intention of leaders to conclude by 2009 negotiations on a replacement for the Convention’s Kyoto Protocol, which contains legally binding targets for reducing emissions through 2012.

“The green light has been given for negotiations to begin on a comprehensive, flexible and fair agreement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Bali in December this year,” he stated.

“A negotiating agenda must now be mapped out, which needs to address how future climate change policies can green economic growth and assist societies, especially the most vulnerable societies, to adapt to climate change,” Mr. de Boer added.