Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today praised Sweden for using its Presidency of the European Union to spotlight the potentially catastrophic threat posed by climate change, urging world leaders to follow suit by advancing negotiations on a new and ambitious greenhouse gas reduction treaty.
“If ever there were a time to act in a spirit of renewed multilateralism… it is now,” Mr. Ban said in speech at Uppsala University, Sweden, the historic alma mater of former Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld and renowned research institute for peace and conflict studies.
“Our world has a fever,” said Mr. Ban quoting the Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt from his address last week at the UN, speaking on behalf of the EU about climate change.
Welcoming Sweden’s efforts to combat climate change, Mr. Ban noted that the levies the Scandinavian country imposes on fossil fuel use and a report its climate commission presented to him in May, among other initiatives, have backed his own drive to push leaders into sealing a deal on a climate change pact at a conference in Copenhagen this December.
“I have been deeply concerned about the glacial pace of progress in those talks,” he said. “The summit I convened last week in New York has put some wind in our sails, but the road ahead requires more pushing and hard work.”
Mr. Ban warned that the world’s leading scientists have concluded that “we have less than 10 years to avoid the worst-case scenarios projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC]. The most vulnerable nations tell us their very survival will soon be at risk.
“Private businesses and insurers are eager for the incentives and signals that will unleash investment and innovation,” said Mr. Ban.
He encouraged all nations to rise to the challenge set by Japan by pledging to cut its emissions to 25 per cent below 1990 levels within 10 years, and noted that China also made significant commitments at the New York summit – the largest ever climate change gathering of heads of State.
“Now we need a breakthrough,” said Mr. Ban. “That is why I am here in Sweden, and why I will be pressing world leaders day in and day out in the run-up to Copenhagen.
“The fever is rising,” Mr. Ban said, again quoting the Swedish Prime Minister. “Unaddressed or handled with only half measures, accelerating climate change will also undermine development.”
At a joint news conference with the Swedish Prime Minister today, Mr. Ban said he was counting on the leadership of Mr. Reinfeldt and his EU counterparts in meeting the many challenges facing the world, including climate change.
“I was very impressed by the passion and commitment demonstrated by young leaders, school children and college students,” he said, referring to teenagers he met who were taking part in a UN-organized video competition on the impact of climate change.
Tomorrow, the Secretary-General is slated to meet the Speaker of Parliament in Stockholm, as well as various political parties and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) before travelling later to Copenhagen for a working dinner with the Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen and a meeting with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge.