Thursday, November 5, 2015 8:23 am
Countries must be ambitious and build on growing momentum toward climate action in the lead up to a landmark climate change conference in Paris next month, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said Wednesday.
“The impacts of climate change are rapidly increasing; the world’s collective ambition must increase, too,” Ban told UN member states at a briefing in New York. “Current ambition must be the floor, not the ceiling, for future efforts.”
The briefing took place less than a month before the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 21) which will take place in Paris from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11. The world’s governments are expected to finalize a binding climate change agreement at the conference.
The secretary-general told UN member states at the briefing that a recent joint-announcement by the governments of China and France was an example of increasing momentum around climate action.
“Just two days ago, the presidents of China and France issued an ambitious joint statement on climate change,” he said. “I commend this and other efforts aimed at finding solutions to the difficult issues under negotiations,” said Ban.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his French counterpart Francois Hollande issued a joint statement on climate change in Beijing on Monday, vowing to promote a working program to accelerate pre-2020 efforts in mitigation, adaptation and support during the Paris climate summit.
They called for a better transparency system to build trust and confidence in the Paris pact, as well as means to review the actions and support of various parties.
Meanwhile, several speakers at the briefing acknowledged the challenging nature of the ongoing climate negotiations, however overall the mood was one of optimism.
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Peru’s minister for environment, told the meeting by video-link that while government’s current commitments will reduce the current trend of global warming from 3.8 degrees to 2.7 degrees by the end of the century, this is not enough to reach the agreed global upper limit of two degrees warming.
Pulgar-Vidal quoted a recent report published by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) that estimates the expected levels of warming based on commitments made by UN member states known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).
“The report shows to the world the good news — that we can turn downward the curve and we can avoid the current trend of around 3.8 degrees Celsius — but it is not enough,” said Pulgar-Vidal.
For her part, Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UNFCC, told the meeting also by video link that the report’s findings indicate that the foundations are in place for a strong agreement in Paris; a substantial slowdown in emissions growth and a foundation to realize the internationally agreed upper limit of two degrees warming.
She said that the Paris agreement was one of four aspects of global efforts towards climate action.
Other important aspects include, countries individual commitments to climate action (the INDCs), financial commitments by rich countries to help developing countries adapt to climate change, as well as commitments made by non-state actors, including the private sector, she said.
Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, the permanent representative of Brazil to the UN, told the meeting that the world was on the right track to achieve agreement in Paris in December.
“We are on the right track to achieve an ambitious universal and legally binding agreement,” he said. “We believe that the international community has never been so close to an agreement.”
However, the Solomon Islands and Benin, the two countries at particular risk from rising sea levels, expressed their concerns that negotiations were not yet ambitious enough.