Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon marked World Environment Day today by asking people everywhere to press their governments to “seal the deal” on a new climate agreement during talks in Copenhagen in December.
He also encouraged individuals “to take concrete steps toward making the planet greener and cleaner,” in his message for the Day, observed on 5 June.
The UN climate change conference in Copenhagen aims to come up with a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol, written in 1997, which establishes legally binding commitments for the reduction of four greenhouse gases.
The Secretary-General also called for investment into renewable sources of energy. “If we invest even part of the substantial new economic stimulus packages in the green economy, we can turn today’s crisis into tomorrow’s sustainable growth,” he said.
Turning to individuals, he said, “Switch off the lights. Take public transportation. Recycle. Plant a tree. Clean up your local park. Hold corporations responsible for their environmental practices. And urge your government representatives to Seal the Deal in Copenhagen.”
This year’s Word Environment Day – focusing on the theme, “Your Planet Needs You! Unite to combat climate change” – is being marked with events around the globe, from a nature painting competition in Afghanistan to a tree-planting ceremony in Timor-Leste.
The host of this year’s Day is Mexico, reflecting the country’s growing role in the fight against climate change – with its increasingly strong participation in global carbon markets, its massive tree-planting campaigns and its natural resource management, according to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
UNEP has also issued a report saying increased investments in the conservation, rehabilitation and management of the earth's forests, peatlands, soils and other key ecosystems could deliver significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and avoid even more being released to the atmosphere.
In addition, the agency announced today that Ethiopia, Pakistan and Portugal have joined the Climate Neutral Network, an initiative to promote global action to de-carbonize economies and societies, bringing the total number of countries that are going low-carbon or even climate neutral to 10.
Also echoing the Secretary-General’s emphasis on green investment was the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), which in its message for the Day called for ensuring that the current financial crisis is used to launch a new “green industrial revolution.
“But it has to be a truly global one. Developing countries and poor communities, already the most afflicted by climate change, cannot afford to lose out,” said the Vienna-based agency.
In a similar vein, UN Development Programme (UNDP) chief Helen Clark said, “The challenge is to ensure that the poorest countries are able to access and invest such funds to achieve their development results. This is an area where UNDP seeks to step up its support for capacity development.”