Challenges remain in runup to Copenhagen climate change conference – UN official

15 July 2009With only 144 days left until the start of the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen, greater efforts are needed to ensure that countries “seal the deal” on a new pact to slash greenhouse gas emissions, an official with the world body said today. Countries attending the meeting of the Major Economies Forum (MEF) on 9 July made some headway on climate change, “but also highlighted areas where we have a lot to do before we reach agreement in Copenhagen,” Janos Pasztor, Director of the Secretary-General’s Climate Support Team, told reporters in New York.Leaders of over one dozen developed nations attending the MEF meeting in L’Aquila, Italy, said they recognize that the global average temperature should not increase more than 2 degrees centigrade, which is “a critically important goal” which these nations had never endorsed explicitly before, he said.They also agreed to set up a global partnership to spur the use of low-carbon technologies and to double public sector investment into research of these new technologies by 2015.Further, the leaders said that financial resources for both mitigation and adaptation must be scaled up dramatically, and although the stopped short of specifying amounts, they did agree to consider a ‘green’ fund, Mr. Pasztor noted.Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that the cuts in greenhouse gas emissions proposed by the Group of Eight (G8) leaders, “while welcome, are not sufficient.”Underscoring that “the time for delays and half-measures is over,” Mr. Ban stressed that “the personal leadership of every head of State or government is needed to seize this moment to protect people and the planet from one of the most serious challenges ever to confront humanity.”Heads of G8 countries agreed in L’Aquila to a long-term goal of reducing emissions by 2050, but Mr. Ban said that this target was not credible without “ambitious mid-term targets, and baselines.“In order to achieve such a global goal, developed countries must lead by example in making firm commitments to reduce their emissions by 2020 on the order of the 25 to 40 per cent below 1990 levels that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) tells us is required. It is disappointing to note that thus far, the mid-term emissions targets announced by developed countries in the MEF are not in this range.”To support countries in their bid to conclude a successor pact in December to the Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period ends in 2012, Mr. Ban is convening a high-level summit – expected to be the largest climate change gathering this year – in New York on 22 September.It is hoped that this summit can foster trust among world leaders, Mr. Pasztor said today, adding that “we will not be able to address climate change without that trust.”

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