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Ban unveils new high-level advisory group to spur action on climate change

Ban unveils new high-level advisory group to spur action on climate change

The leaders of the United Kingdom and Ethiopia will head up a new high-level group launched by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today, intended to mobilize financing swiftly to help developing countries combat climate change.

The Copenhagen Accord reached at December's United Nations conference in the Danish capital aims to jump-start immediate action on climate change and guide negotiations on long-term action, with developing countries to be given $30 billion until 2012 and then $100 billion a year until 2020.

It also includes an agreement to working towards curbing global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius and efforts to reduce or limit emissions.

“There will be an even balance between developing and developed countries” in the new Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing, chaired by Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Mr. Ban announced in New York today.

The body's other members, who will be appointed for 10 months, include President Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway, senior ministers and officials from central banks and experts on finance and development, according to a statement issued by his spokesperson.

It will be tasked with creating practical proposals to boost both short- and long-term financing for mitigation and adaptation strategies in developing countries, the Secretary-General said during a press conference, where he was joined via video-link from London and Addis Ababa by Mr. Brown and Mr. Zenawi.

“Let me emphasize the importance of rapid action,” Mr. Ban told reporters.

“Developing countries need to move as quickly as possible toward a future of low-emissions growth and prosperity,” he stressed, noting that millions of people in Africa and around the world are suffering from climate change's effects.

Additionally, the Secretary-General emphasized that assisting with adaptation efforts is a “moral imperative,” as well as “a smart investment in a safer, more sustainable world for all.”

The new group is expected to issue its final recommendations before the next conference of parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Mexico later this year.

Last week, the UNFCCC announced that by the 31 January deadline specified in the Copenhagen Accord, some of the world's biggest emitters of carbon dioxide – including the United States and China – have formally submitted their national targets to cut and limit greenhouse gases by 2020.

It said that it had received specific pledges from 55 countries that together account for 78 per cent of global emissions from energy use.

“This represents an important invigoration of the UN climate change talks under the two tracks of Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol. The commitment to confront climate change at the highest level is beyond doubt,” Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, said in a statement.

The pledges to the Accord are purely voluntary and there are no enforcement provisions for the signing countries.

“Greater ambition is required to meet the scale of the challenge. But I see these pledges as clear signals of willingness to move negotiations towards a successful conclusion,” said Mr. de Boer.

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 from 1990 levels by 2020, and that global emissions must be halved by 2050.