The world is waiting anxiously for a durable and economically feasible solution to the pressing issue of climate change, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told participants at the latest round of United Nations-sponsored talks which began today in Bangkok.
People are hoping for a solution which is “based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities” and “strikes the delicate balance between globally inclusive action and the need to eradicate poverty,” Mr. Ban said in a video message to the opening of the five-day meeting.
He told the roughly 1,200 participants that he understands the “huge responsibility” they have in negotiating a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
“But the state of our planet requires you to be ambitious – in what you aim for, and equally, in how hard you work to reach agreement.”
The Secretary-General urged attendees to build on the momentum generated by the breakthrough in Bali, Indonesia, in last December’s landmark UN Climate Change Conference, where 187 countries agreed on the so-called “Bali Roadmap” – including bolstered action on mitigation, adaptation, technology and finance – to tackle global warming.
The Bangkok meeting is expected to lay out a work plan for the negotiations which will conclude in 2009 at a major summit in Copenhagen, Denmark. Mr. Ban has emphasized in the past that a successor pact must be ready for ratification three years before the Kyoto Protocol expires to allow countries to make it law in time.
It is also anticipated that this gathering – attended by delegates from 163 nations – will further efforts regarding emission reduction targets for developed countries.
Also speaking at the opening of the talks, the top UN climate change official pointed out that three months have already elapsed since the close of the Bali conference.
“This leaves us with around one and a half years – a very short time-frame within which to complete negotiations on one of the most complex international agreements that history has ever seen,” said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
“But I am confident that it can be done if the work is broken down into manageable, bite-sized chunks.”
The head of the UN’s regional arm for Asia and the Pacific urged developed nations to assist poorer countries with their technological and financial needs to address climate change.
“The challenge for the region’s developing countries is whether they can switch to a less polluting pattern while maintaining the growth and development they require,” Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), said at the Bangkok meeting.
“We need a global solidarity based upon genuine North-South and South-South partnerships of governments, as developing countries cannot do this alone.”
She underscored that global warming is no longer a distant threat for many countries in the region. “It is a reality and a sign of what lies ahead. For many of our Pacific island States, it is a looming question of their survival or extinction.”