Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today paid tribute to the accomplishments of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), co-recipient of last year's Nobel Peace Prize, as he marked its 20th anniversary.
“Anniversaries are an opportunity to look forward by taking stock of the past,” he said in an address to the body's 29th session in Geneva which runs until 4 September. “In the case of the IPCC, we have many milestones to celebrate.”
Mr. Ban hailed the Panel's numerous achievements, such as its groundbreaking Second Assessment Report in 1995 that provided the foundation for the Kyoto Protocol, the legally binding regime for reducing greenhouse gas emissions whose first-round commitments end in 2012.
“Most recently, last year's Fourth Assessment Report put to rest any lingering doubts on climate change – it established that climate change is real, it is happening, and that human activity is the primary driver of this phenomenon,” he said.
The Secretary-General credited the study with elevating the issue to the “highest levels of political and public consciousness” and for leading to the breakthrough climate talks last December in Bali, where global leaders agreed on a road map to address the issue.
The IPCC's “rigorous scientific tradition” and relating science to public policy are some of the keys to its success, he noted.
Mr. Ban underscored the need to keep up the momentum towards reaching agreement on a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol, talks on which are scheduled to conclude late next year at a summit in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The latest round of these negotiations in Accra, Ghana, wrapped up this week.
“It is crucial that this new agreement measures up to your Panel's scientific findings,” he told the IPCC. “That is why I look to you to constantly make the scientific case for action on the road to Copenhagen, and indeed beyond.”
Speaking to reporters later in the day, the Secretary-General stressed that climate change is a global crisis which requires a concerted response through global partnerships. “We have the technology, we have the financing, we have the resources, we have the scientific findings, what is largely lacking is political will to address this issue,” he stated.
The Panel was established in 1988 by the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to help the world better understand the phenomenon of climate change.
Mr. Ban arrived in Geneva from Turin, Italy, where he hosted a two-day retreat for the Organization's senior managers.
Tomorrow he is scheduled to attend a memorial ceremony for the 19 August 2003 bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad, and meet with survivors and the families of victims.
He is also expected to witness the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Iraq and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on science and technology cooperation.
Later in the day the Secretary-General travels to Spain, where he will speak at Exposition Zaragoza 2008 about the importance of water for social, economic and political security and meet Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos. He then visits Madrid for talks with Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero.