Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced today that he will head to the Arctic polar ice rim late next month as part of his ongoing efforts to push for action ahead of a major climate change conference to be held in December in Copenhagen.
The trip follows Mr. Ban’s visit – the first by a UN Secretary-General – to Antarctica in November 2007, during which he saw first-hand the effects of climate change on the continent’s melting glaciers.
It is part of the UN chief’s ongoing efforts to press Member States to “seal the deal” on a new global pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which contains legally binding targets for reducing emissions, when they meet in Denmark at the end of this year.
“We have less than five months to seal a deal,” Mr. Ban told journalists at his monthly news conference at UN Headquarters in New York.
“To keep up the momentum, I will travel to the arctic polar ice rim later next month to get a first-hand look at conditions there – in particular the melting sea ice.”
The Secretary-General, who has described climate change as the “defining challenge of our era,” has been pressing for achieving “a fair, effective and scientifically ambitious deal” in Copenhagen that can benefit all nations.
That is why he is convening the largest-ever gathering of leaders on the issue at a summit to be held in September in New York to build further momentum ahead of the December conference. More than 100 heads of State and government are expected to attend the 22 September gathering, he told reporters.
“Two years ago, only a few leaders could speak to these issues,” he said. “Today, leaders are walking the road to Copenhagen together.”
Climate change was also the focus of Mr. Ban’s recent visit to China, which he said had a special responsibility to lead the global fight against the scourge, and Mongolia, where he highlighted the special needs faced in this area by landlocked countries.
Closer to home, the Secretary-General noted that the renovation of the UN Headquarters complex represents just one example of the practical steps organizations, businesses and individuals can take to build a greener and more prosperous world.
“In many ways, the renovation is an outward symbol of our inward renewal,” he stated. “The redesigned UN building will incorporate some of the most innovative design features to achieve greater efficiency and energy savings.”
With the addition of features such as improved heating, ventilation and lighting, the project will result in a reduction of the total energy consumption at UN Headquarters by more than 50 per cent, and a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions by more than 45 per cent, he added.