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Next year will be critical year for action on climate change, UN officials say

Next year will be critical year for action on climate change, UN officials say

Conference Focuses on Climate Change
With negotiations on a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol, which mandates targets for slashing greenhouse gas emissions, expected to wrap up in December 2009, next year will be the year of climate change, United Nations officials said today in New York.

The latest round of UN talks, currently underway in Poznan, Poland, is a “stock-taking” meeting, falling between last year’s landmark Bali conference, where 187 countries agreeing to launch a two-year process of formal negotiations, and next year’s Copenhagen, Denmark, gathering.

“The year between this meeting in Poznan and the meeting in Copenhagen is going to disproportionately on climate change as it should be in terms of attention of governments of the world,” as well as the private sector and civil society, said Robert Orr, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Strategic Planning in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General.

Economic recovery and climate change are heavily linked, he stressed at a press conference, “because you can’t really deal with one without the other.”

Mr. Orr also noted that since the end of the Bali conference last December, it has become “very old-fashioned” to pit climate change against development. Regarding the solutions to both issues, “the arrows go both directions.”

Also addressing reporters in New York today, Janos Pasztor, Director of the Secretary-General's Climate Change Support Team, said that real progress needs to be made during the two-week Poznan meeting, including laying out a “shared vision” that addresses what countries are willing to undertake in terms of long-term cooperation on climate change.

Nations must decide on a timetable and workplan for the remaining negotiations before the Copenhagen meeting, he said, adding that “we do hope that there will be clear political signals provided by countries about what they’re prepared to do, or which direction they’re prepared to go.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is hoping for an “ambitious, comprehensive agreement that is ratifiable by all countries” next December. The new pact must contain four key elements: ambitious emissions reductions by developed countries; mitigation measures by developing nations; financial support by wealthier nations for poorer ones; and stepped up multilateralism.

To achieve these goals, “we need nothing less than a revolution to pave the way for the low-carbon emissions economy of the future, including massive investment by the public as well as private sectors in alternate energy systems, a global green ‘New Deal,’ and also innovative ways of financing this, from public as well as private sources,” Mr. Pasztor said.