Global perspective Human stories

Secretary-General says tackling climate change a 'historical responsibility'

Secretary-General says tackling climate change a 'historical responsibility'

Addressing the issue of climate change is a "historical responsibility" we have to our descendants centuries from now, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.

"I support the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities when it comes to climate change," Mr. Ban said in an address to the the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Bangkok, Thailand.

Developing countries must participate, as successes at the landmark UN Climate Change Conference currently underway in Bali, Indonesia, hinge on major emitters from the developing world, he noted.

Meanwhile, developed countries -- with their financial resources and technological capabilities -- have a "historical responsibility" to take the lead and assist poorer nations.

However, the Secretary-General pointed out that a century or two from now, our descendants "will never question whether you are from a developed country or whether you are from a developing country. They will question your leadership at this time."

Thus, "we must be responsible for what we will do and responsible for what we need to transfer to give this planet Earth to future generations in the most hospitable and environmentally sustainable situation," he said.

The developing world must approach climate change as a development concern, instead of solely an environmental issue, Mr. Ban, who will travel to the Bali Conference tomorrow, noted.

He highlighted the important contribution that countries of the Asia-Pacific region can make towards a breakthrough in Bali.

"This vast area has many of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, and it already accounts for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions," he said. "High population growth and rapid economic expansion are expected to significantly raise this proportion in coming decades."

Tackling global warming has a "silver lining" -- namely, the opportunity to reduce emissions while promoting economic growth, the Secretary-General said, providing opportunities to advance sustainable development, as well as encourage cleaner technologies, industries and jobs.

"Today, we need to create a new type of industrial revolution based on cleaner technology and a low-carbon economy" he said. "Greater energy efficiency is the first step towards this revolution."