Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today that the world must galvanize its will and reach a new agreement on measures to fight climate change by the end of 2009.
Speaking on Sunday in the Japanese city which gave birth to the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, Mr. Ban said the Protocol was a historic and crucial first step by the international community to curb greenhouse gas emissions. With the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ending in 2012, the Secretary-General said a new agreement must be adopted by December 2009.
Mr. Ban was conducting a dialogue at Kyoto University with several hundred students, scholars and representatives of the private sector and civil society. He told the audience that climate change was too big and complex a challenge for any country or sector of society to address alone; each country and each sector can and must contribute.
“Last year, we witnessed how working together can help us forge a path to collective action in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges,” Mr. Ban said.
“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, known as IPCC, provided the science; the Stern Report, the economics; the UN High-Level Event on Climate Change, the political leadership; Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth, the public awareness. Taken together, all these contributed to rising momentum and achieving a significant breakthrough in the global response. This came in the Bali Roadmap agreed last December, which launched a new negotiations process to design a comprehensive post-2012 framework.”
The Secretary-General called on all major emitters to set ambitious targets which he said were essential to conclude the deal in 2009. He commended Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda of Japan “for the impressive vision he recently announced for moving Japan to a low-carbon society – including Japan's plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60 to 80 per cent by 2050.”
“This is the kind of leadership by example we need from developed countries to fulfil the larger share of responsibility they bear,” Mr. Ban said.
He added that besides long-term goals, short and medium-term targets are important as they “will encourage necessary action by developing countries, making a deal in 2009 possible.”
Climate change remained a focus when Mr. Ban met Japanese business leaders in Tokyo later in the day. Speaking to about 30 senior executives of leading Japanese corporations, the Secretary-General said support and cooperation of the private sector was vitally important to addressing pressing issues such as climate change.
“The race is under way to develop and provide needed solutions, such as clean technology, renewable energy, efficient products and processes, and sustainable goods and services. I have no doubt that the Japanese companies will play a leadership role in this new era of responsible and sustainable business.”
Mr. Ban arrived in Japan on Saturday at the start of a two-week, three-nation East Asian tour which will also take him to China, the Republic of Korea and then back to Japan to attend the summit of Group of Eight (G-8) industrialized countries on the northern island of Hokkaido.
The Secretary-General has said that top on his agenda are three pressing, interrelated challenges: the global food crisis, climate change, and the race to reach the global anti-poverty targets – the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – by the deadline of 2015.
On Monday, Mr. Ban will have an audience with the Emperor and Empress of Japan, and hold meetings with Crown Prince Naruhito, Mr. Fukuda and Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura.