UN official still hopeful for strong climate deal as latest talks end

6 November 2009
Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

As the last negotiating session before next month’s United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen concluded today, a senior official with the world body called on countries to push ahead to deliver on a strong international agreement to tackle global warming.

“Copenhagen can and must be the turning point in the international fight against climate change – nothing has changed my confidence in that,” said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“A powerful combination of commitment and compromise can and must make this happen,” he told a news conference in Barcelona, the site of the final round of talks ahead of the 7 to 18 December meeting in the Danish capital.

In Copenhagen, governments are expected to agree to a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 treaty – part of the overall UNFCCC – which has strong, legally binding measures committing 37 industrialized States to cutting emissions by an average of 5 per cent against 1990 levels over the period from 2008 to 2012.

Over 4,500 participants from 181 countries participated in the five-day gathering, during which progress was made on the issues of adaptation, technology cooperation, reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries and mechanisms to disburse funds for developing countries.

Little progress was made, however, on mid-term emission reduction targets of developed countries and finance, according to a news release issued by the UNFCCC. These are two key issues that would allow developing countries to limit their emissions growth and adapt to the inevitable effects of climate change.

“Without these two pieces of the puzzle in place, we will not have a deal in Copenhagen,” said Mr. de Boer, adding that “leadership at the highest level is required to unlock the pieces.”

At the high-level climate change summit held in New York in September, heads of State and government pledged to achieve a deal in Copenhagen that spells out ambitious emission reduction targets of industrialized countries, as well as nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing countries with the necessary support, and significantly scaled-up financial and technological resources.

“I look to industrialised countries to raise their ambitions to meet the scale of the challenge we face,” said Mr. de Boer. “And I look to industrialized nations for clarity on the amount of short- and long-term finance they will commit.”

Mr. de Boer said developed countries would need to provide at least $10 billion to enable developing countries to immediately develop low-emission growth and adaptation strategies and to build internal capacity.

At the same time, developed countries will need to indicate how they intend to raise predictable and sustainable long-term financing and what there longer-term commitments will be.

“Negotiators must deliver a final text at Copenhagen which presents a strong, functioning architecture to kick start rapid action in the developing world,” said the Executive Secretary.

“And between now and Copenhagen, governments must deliver the clarity required to help the negotiators complete their work,” he added.


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