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UN Chief: World Expects Climate Change Breakthrough

NUSA DUA, Bali, Indonesia, December 12, 2007 (ENS) – The world is counting on a breakthrough at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has told delegates at the summit, calling the fight against global warming “the moral challenge of our generation.”

In a speech delivered today at the opening of the conference’s high-level segment, he said, “What the world expects from Bali, from all of you, is an agreement to launch negotiations towards a comprehensive climate change agreement.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Indonesian Prime Minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Bali

Ban underscored the importance of creating a road map to tackle climate change and a timeline to produce a new agreement by 2009 so that it can enter into force after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

“Let us turn the climate crisis into a climate compact,” he said, telling the delegates that they have been given a “clear charge” by the world to produce a breakthrough.

“Not only are the eyes of the world upon us – more important, succeeding generations depend on us. We cannot rob our children of their future,” he said.

Climate change affects those least equipped to cope and those least responsible the hardest, the Secretary-General reminded delegates.

“We have an ethical obligation to right this injustice,” he said. “We have a duty to protect the most vulnerable.”

The secretary-general urged developed countries to continue taking the lead in slashing emissions, while developing nations need incentives to curb their own release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

“Together, we can spur a new era of green economics, an era of truly sustainable development based on clean technology and a low-emission technology,” he declared.

According to scientists, creative solutions can result in both lowered emissions and economic growth, Ban said, as the “costs of inaction – in ecological, human and financial terms – far exceed the costs of action now.”

Acknowledging that concluding a new climate change regime will not be easy, the secretary-general pledged UN support through the negotiating period and assistance in implementing agreements reached.
Indonesian President Susilo Yudhoyono addresses delegates at the Bali climate conference.

“Every UN agency, fund and program is committed,” he told the gathering of more than 130 government ministers and six heads of state. “We are determined to be a part of the answer to climate change.”

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called on developed nations to cut their carbon emissions and to help developing countries in addressing climate change.

“In global cooperation, any nation must be part of the solution and not part of the problem. Developed nations which are historically responsible for global warming must do more,” he told the delegates.

“Developing countries which enjoy high economic growth must avoid industrialized countries` previous mistakes by adopting long-term low-carbon development plans,” he said.

He said developing countries would also benefit from the extended carbon market.

Presentations from heads of UN bodies and specialized agencies and statements from 48 ministers and heads of delegation followed. Contact groups and informal consultations continued throughout the day on the Bali roadmap, and mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol, including compliance with emissions limits.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, left, hands Australia’s Kyoto Protocol ratification document to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today in Bali.

The newly elected Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd handed his country’s Kyoto Protocol instrument of ratification to the secretary-general today, reversing Australia’s long-held alliance with the United States under the previous government. Australia will now be bound by greenhouse gas emissions limits of eight percent below 1990 levels by the end of 2012.

Tuesday, delegates celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol, which was agreed in Kyoto, Japan in 1997. It took effect in February 2005, and on January 1, 2008, the first commitment period begins.

The protocol, requires 36 industrialized countries and the European Union to reduce a basket of six greenhouse gases an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels during the first commitment period, which ends December 31, 2012.

The purpose of the Bali conference is to agree on what delegates are calling a “roadmap” towards a successor agreement that will pick up when the Kyoto Protocol expires.

Joining global efforts to become climate neutral, the United Nations announced today that it will offset the carbon emissions resulting from its members’ travel to and from climate change conference – estimated at around 3,370 tons of carbon dioxide.

The greenhouse gas emissions arising from the travel of staff from nearly two dozen UN agencies, funds and programs, as well as the secretary-general and his team, are estimated to be worth about $100,000 at current carbon prices.

The UN bodies will invest in credits accumulating in the Kyoto Protocol’s Adaptation Fund, which aims to finance concrete adaptation projects and programs in developing countries.

“Offsetting emissions by supporting the soon-to-be operation adaptation fund sends a clear signal that climate proofing vulnerable economies has – like the UN’s action climate change generally – risen to the top of the organization’s agenda in 2007,” said Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme.

The negotiations at the Bali conference represent a turning point in the fight against global warming, the secretary-general said Tuesday.

“Today, we are at a crossroads, one path leading towards a comprehensive new climate agreement, and the other towards oblivion,” he said. “The choice is clear.”

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