Visiting Kyoto, UN Chief Urges New Climate Deal by 2009

KYOTO, Japan, June 30, 2008 (ENS) – The world must galvanize its will and reach a new agreement on measures to fight climate change by the end of 2009, said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Sunday in the Japanese city where the Kyoto Protocol was finalized.

The secretary-general arrived in Japan on Saturday, kicking off a two-week, three-nation official visit to East Asia which will culminate with his participation at the annual summit of the Group of Eight, G8, industrialized countries in Hokkaido early next month.

Ban said he chose Kyoto as his first stop because he wants to “send out a very symbolic political message from the place where the Kyoto Protocol was adopted more than 10 years ago.”

“We have resources; we have technologies. I think what is missing is largely political will. If we have united political will, I am sure we will be able to overcome these crises,” the secretary-general said.

Ban said the 1997 protocol was a historic and crucial first step by the international community to curb greenhouse gas emissions. With the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ending in 2012, the secretary-general stressed that a new agreement must be adopted by December 2009, a target date already agreed by governments at the UN climate summit in Bali, Indonesia last December.

“Last year, we witnessed how working together can help us forge a path to collective action in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges,” Ban told an audience of students, scholars and representatives of the private sector and civil society at Kyoto University.

He said climate change is too big and complex a challenge for any country or sector of society to address alone; each country and each sector can and must contribute.

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, known as IPCC, provided the science; the Stern Report, the economics; the UN High-Level Event on Climate Change, the political leadership; Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, the public awareness. Taken together, all these contributed to rising momentum and achieving a significant breakthrough in the global response,” he said.

“This came in the Bali Roadmap agreed last December, which launched a new negotiations process to design a comprehensive post-2012 framework,” said Ban.

The secretary-general called on all major emitters to set ambitious targets which he said were essential to conclude the deal in 2009.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, left,
meets Yasuo Fukuda, Prime Minister
of Japan, in Kyoto. June 30, 2008.
(Photo by Eskinder Debebe
courtesy UN)

He commended Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda of Japan “for the impressive vision he recently announced for moving Japan to a low-carbon society – including Japan’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60 to 80 percent by 2050.”

On June 9, Prime Minister Fukuda said in a speech at the Japan Press Club, “We must greatly shift the country’s helm towards a low-carbon society for the sake of future generations.”

“For this we must halve global CO2 emissions by the year 2050. This reduction target forms the crux of the ‘Cool Earth Programme’ which Japan has proposed to the world. I aim to have this goal shared by the G8 and other major economies,” the prime minister said.

Commenting on this announcement, Ban said, “This is the kind of leadership by example we need from developed countries to fulfil the larger share of responsibility they bear.”

The secretary-general said he would count on Japan’s leadership at the G-8 summit to come up with concrete measures to address three pressing, interrelated challenges – the global food crisis, climate change, and the race to reach global anti-poverty targets called the Millennium Development Goals by the deadline of 2015.

Climate change was the focus when Ban met Japanese business leaders in Tokyo later in the day. Speaking to about 30 senior executives of leading Japanese corporations, the secretary-general said support and cooperation of the private sector is vitally important to addressing pressing issues such as climate change.

“The race is under way to develop and provide needed solutions, such as clean technology, renewable energy, efficient products and processes, and sustainable goods and services,” he said. “I have no doubt that the Japanese companies will play a leadership role in this new era of responsible and sustainable business.”

Ban said he was excited by his first visit to Japan as secretary-general. “Japan’s leadership cannot be more important than today as it is assuming the presidency of the G8,” he said.

On Monday, he had an audience with the Emperor and Empress of Japan, and held meetings with Crown Prince Naruhito, Prime Minister Fukuda and Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura.

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