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Climate Talks

Climate change everybody’s business, says Ban

Everyone has a role to play in solving the climate change crisis, said United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

In his opening speech for the high-level segment of Doha climate talks, Mr. Ban urged countries to take decisive actions that will address the “growing crisis” brought by climate change.

“Let us be under no illusion. This is a crisis, a threat to us all – our economies, our security, and the well-being of our children and those who will come after,” he warned.

“The danger signs are all around,” he said, noting the unprecedented melting of ice caps, thawing permafrost, rising sea levels, drought and land degradation in different parts of the world.

With all of these, Mr. Ban held that what seems abnormal before in our environment now becomes the “new normal.”

“No one is immune to climate change – rich or poor,” he stressed. “It is an existential challenge for the whole human race – our way of life, our plans for the future. We must take ownership. We, collectively, are the problem. Then we should have the solutions.”

With 195 member countries of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change present on the conference, Mr. Ban urged all nations to work with a “spirit of compromise – to take the long view and avoid getting bogged down in minutiae.”

“Let us ensure that we stay on track for an effective, fair, ambitious and universal climate agreement by 2015,” Mr. Ban said.

Meanwhile, as the two-week convention is set to end on December 7, he identified five key “deliverables” by governments in Doha, beginning with the endorsement of the second round of the Kyoto Protocol, which is going expire at the end of this year.

“The Kyoto Protocol remains the closest we have to a global, binding climate agreement. It must continue. It is a foundation to build on. It has important institutions, including accounting and legal systems, and the framework that markets sorely need. Its continuation on January 1, 2013 would show that governments remain committed to a more robust climate regime,” he said.

The secretary general also seeks progress on long-term climate finance mechanism and adaptation projects and ensuring that the institutions set up in Cancun and Durban to support mitigation and adaptation by developing countries – including the Green Climate Fund and the Climate Technology Center and Network – are fully equipped and effective.

Additionally, he expects governments to demonstrate, with no ambiguity, that negotiations on a global and legally binding instrument remain on the right track and to show how they plan to act on the gap between mitigation projects and what is required to pull off the 2 degrees target.

Recent reports commissioned by the U.N. revealed that greenhouse gas emissions are “the highest they have ever been.” Thus, they suggested that immediate actions are needed to keep global average temperatures from rising beyond an internationally agreed level of two degrees Celsius, or else climate change would have more serious impacts.

“The gap can be bridged. But time is not on our side,” said Mr. Ban.

“The window of opportunity to prevent the effects of climate change from spiralling out of our control is closing,” he said. “When future generations look upon the choices we made, let them not be forced to exclaim that we failed to act in time. Let them not have to suffer the consequences of the inability to answer the clarion call to act with conscientious foresight,” he stressed during a press briefing in Doha.

“If we act together with clear purpose, we can meet this challenge. But we need to be united – governments from all regions, business and civil society. We have a clear choice: stand together, or fall together,” he emphasized. – C. Dominguez

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