UN official spotlights gap between reality and rhetoric on climate change negotiations

12 October 2009

There is a large gap between the rhetoric of heads of State on commitments to reverse global warming and what their negotiators are putting on the table, a senior United Nations official said today in the wake of recent climate change talks in Bangkok, Thailand.

The Bangkok negotiations took place shortly after the 22 September summit convened by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at UN Headquarters, attended by 101 heads of State and 163 country representatives.

Last month’s summit, the largest ever on climate change, “signalled its desire to achieve an agreed outcome in Copenhagen,” Janos Pasztor, Director of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Climate Change Support Team, told reporters in New York.

Mr. Pasztor also noted that during the 10-day talks in Bangkok, which wrapped up on Friday, headway was made on some of the elements of the climate change treaty, such as adaptation, technology transfer, capacity-building and deforestation.

“Developing countries clearly demonstrated they are moving forward in a spirit of pragmatic cooperation,” ahead of the Copenhagen conference in December when world leaders are slated to finalize a deal on carbon emissions to take effect when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

“However, there is still a disconnect between what national leaders say in summit meetings and what their negotiators offer on the negotiating floor,” said Mr. Pasztor of the Bangkok talks, held under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“Little progress was made on the core political issues, such as the mid-term emission reduction targets for industrialized countries,” he said.

Mr. Pasztor also underscored the lack of “clarity” over the finance needed by developing countries to curb their greenhouse gas emission growth and adapt to the effects of climate change.

The Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found that to stave off the worst effects of climate change, industrialized countries must slash emissions by 25 to 40 per cent of 1990 levels by 2020 and global emissions must be halved by 2050.

With only five more negotiating days left until Copenhagen, countries must maintain the positive momentum of the New York summit and “translate that into concrete proposals that can advance progress toward an agreement,” said Mr. Pasztor.

The last round of negotiations ahead of the Copenhagen conference will be held Barcelona, Spain from 7 to 18 December.

“The Secretary-General encourages all parties to negotiate in a spirit of flexibility and enlightened self-interest, focusing on the benefits that a fair, ambitious and comprehensive global deal will provide for their own people, the children of future generations and to the planet.”


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