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UN official stresses need for renewed momentum towards achieving climate accord

Small scale farmers preparing trenches and fertilizing a grape production project.
FAO/IFAD/WFP/Eliza Deacon
Small scale farmers preparing trenches and fertilizing a grape production project.

UN official stresses need for renewed momentum towards achieving climate accord

“The clock is ticking faster and faster” before an agreement must be reached in Paris in December, but “so much has happened over the past few weeks,” a senior United Nations climate change official said today.

Briefing the press at UN Headquarters, Assistant Secretary-General for Climate Change Janos Pasztor highlighted recent initiatives meant to bolster the efforts towards a successful outcome at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-21), which will be held in Paris at the end of the year.

In Paris, countries are expected to agree on a universal, legally binding agreement to enable the international community to combat climate change effectively and to boost the transition towards resilient, low-carbon societies and economies.

“The findings of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change action show that action now can limit climate change, but if we wait, it will be increasingly difficult and more expensive,” Mr. Pasztor told reporters.

In 2010, governments agreed that emissions need to be reduced so that global temperature increases are limited to below 2 degrees Celsius. “Let’s remind ourselves that the business as usual scenario is showing us a 4-degrees path or more, and that we need to bring it down to at least the 2-degrees path,” noted Mr. Pasztor.

Highlighting recent events, he touched on the Petersburg Dialogue held in May in Berlin, which he said was marked by a “major” announcement by Chancellor Angela Merkel that Germany is prepared to double its climate finance assistance by 2020, showing “clear leadership.”

He also welcomed another commitment made by French President François Hollande, whose country is about to introduce a new legislation that requires institutional investors to demonstrate what is the “carbon footprint of their assets,” reinforcing “transparency” in that regard.

Also in May, the Business and Climate Summit held in Paris provides a forum for business and government leaders to adopt forward-looking strategies and call for ambitious policies that will allow for scaling up solutions. The Summit built on the momentum created in New York last September, when Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for the private sector to drive more action and mobilize political will for a meaningful agreement in 2015.

“The Secretary-General is committed to promoting global action, which will not only address climate change, but also promote economic growth and greater opportunities in terms of health, education and employment,” underlined the Assistant Secretary-General.

September’s UN Climate Summit was an “amazing” meeting, he added, noting a “tectonic shift” in the way the private sector is now dealing with the issue of climate change and coming up with concrete proposals. “Who could have thought, five or six years ago, that we would have a major international gathering of CEOs and senior representatives unanimously calling to decarbonize the economy?”

Mr. Pasztor also pointed to the latest round of negotiations that began this week in Bonn aimed at achieving progress on an agreement for Paris, and welcomed the “positive mood” among delegations, even though he acknowledged that the talks “could go a little faster,” as there is a “long draft document” to go through and things cannot be left to the end of the process.