4 October 2010

UN urges nations to lay common ground for climate deal

Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres at United Nations in September. UN Photo/John McIlwaine
Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres at United Nations in September. UN Photo/John McIlwaine
UN climate chief called on governments meeting in Tianjin, China, to accelerate their search for common ground to achieve strong action on climate change.

With less than two months to go before the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Christiana Figueres said that a concrete outcome in December was urgently needed to restore faith in the ability of Parties to take the negotiations forward.

"Governments have restored their own trust in the process, but they must ensure that the rest of the world believes in a future of ever increasing government commitment to combat climate change," she said.

Governments need to agree on what is doable in Cancun, and how it will be achievable in a politically balanced manner, she added.

Ms. Figueres said there is a growing convergence in the negotiations that Cancun could deliver a balanced package of decisions that define the pillars of action to address climate change.

Such a politically balanced package of decisions could include:

*a new global framework to help countries adapt to the already inevitable changes to the climate system;
*the launch of a new mechanism to drive faster deployment of technology to developing nations;
*a decision to establish a new fund to oversee the long-term money raised for the specific climate needs of developing nations;
*and a decision on early and large-scale action to protect forests and the livelihoods of those who live in them.

"The agreements that can be reached in Cancun may not be exhaustive in their details," Ms. Figueres said.

"But as a balanced package they must be comprehensive in their scope and they can deliver strong results in the short term as well as set the stage for long term commitments to address climate change in an effective and fair manner."

Ms. Figueres acknowledged there were areas of political disagreements, mainly over how and when to agree on a fair share of responsibilities of present and future action on climate change, but said they were not insurmountable.

Governments seem ready to discuss difficult issues. Now they must bridge differences in order to reach a tangible outcome in Cancun, she said.

For example, governments can formalize the many pledges and promises they have made to cut and limit emissions, along with providing clarity on the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol.

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