Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed today the set of decisions reached by countries at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, saying they represent a significant agreement that will define how the international community will address climate change in the coming years.
After extended negotiations over the weekend, the 194 parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreed on a package of decisions, known as the Durban Platform, which include the launch of a protocol or legal instrument that would apply to all members, a second commitment period for the existing Kyoto Protocol and the launch of the Green Climate Fund.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson Mr. Ban said the new accord is “essential for stimulating greater action and for raising the level of ambition and the mobilization of resources to respond to the challenges of climate change.”
Mr. Ban also welcomed the agreement to establish a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, stating it will “increase certainty for the carbon market and provide additional incentives for new investments in technology and the infrastructure necessary to fight climate change.”
In addition, Mr. Ban said he was gratified that countries reached decisions to implement the Cancun Agreements, which were created at last year''s conference in Mexico. The new measures include setting up a Technology Mechanism that will promote access by developing countries to clean, low-carbon technologies, and establishing an Adaptation Committee that will coordinate adaptation activities on a global scale.
Mr. Ban also welcomed the launch of the Green Climate Fund and said he was gratified that a number of countries signalled their intent to contribute to it. The Fund was created last year to help developing nations protect themselves from climate impacts and build their own sustainable futures, but had not been launched yet, and Mr. Ban had urged developed countries throughout the two-week conference to inject the necessary capital to kick-start it.
“Taken together, these agreements represent an important advance in our work on climate change,” Mr. Ban said, calling on countries to “quickly implement these decisions and to continue working together in the constructive spirit evident in Durban.”
The UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) also welcomed the agreements at the conference, noting that key steps were taken such as negotiating “a new and more inclusive treaty and the establishment of the Green Climate Fund.”
“The outcomes of Durban provide a welcome boost for global climate action. They reflect the growing, and in some quarters unexpected, determination of countries to act collectively,” said UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner.
However, UNEP also said the conference still left the world with serious and urgent challenges if a global temperature rise is to be kept under two degrees Celsius in the 21st century.
“The big question many will ask is how this will translate into actual emission reductions and by when? Whatever answer will emerge in the coming months, Durban has kept the door open for the world to respond to climate change based on science and common sense rather than political expediency,” said Mr. Steiner.