Global perspective Human stories

UN envoys voice new optimism in tackling climate change

UN envoys voice new optimism in tackling climate change

Climate change
Top United Nations climate change officials today voiced optimism that international leaders are ready and willing to tackle climate change on the second and final day of a General Assembly meeting on the issue.

Ricardo Lagos, one of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s three Special Envoys on climate change, said that discussions with world leaders on the topic had infused him with “an optimism that things can happen,” adding that countries seem ready to consider novel solutions to the problem.

Mr. Lagos, a former Chilean president, said leaders also recognize the need for a “new, more sophisticated agreement” to succeed the Kyoto Protocol – the international community's current framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions which expires in 2012 – as well as the necessity for a “clear and definite timetable” on readying a successor pact to be ready to allow countries to make it law in time.

Another climate change envoy, former General Assembly President Han Seung-soo, also said he had been “greatly encouraged” by meeting global leaders, most of whom said that new approaches are crucial.

Speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, Pakistan’s Environment Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat said the Group welcomed the proposal by Mr. Ban to convene a high-level meeting on climate change next month at UN Headquarters in New York.

“With the clock continuing to click,” he said, “we need to move fast and act before climate change turns into a climate crisis.”

The Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Jacques Diouf said his agency supports the Secretary-General’s proposed high-level event. Also this fall, FAO will hold its own meeting to discuss world food insecurity and the challenges posed by climate change and bioenergy.

Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), told reporters that “while climate change is in the essence an environmental issue, it is an issue that can only be solved if an economic answer is provided to it.”

International assistance is necessary to aid developing countries, whose “overriding concerns” are economic growth and poverty eradication, to allow them to take measures that are “not justifiable from a national economic point of view, but that are essential from a climate change point of view,” he said.

Mr. de Boer added that there is a “general recognition that the Kyoto Protocol in itself is not enough,” and that it is essential to reach agreement on a post-2012 mechanism to combat global warming.