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Secretary-general admits growing UN pessimism over Cancun climate summit

United Kingdom
Business Green

Prime ministers and presidents come together to form new UN global sustainability panel
UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon yesterday admitted for the first time that the up-coming climate change summit in Cancun may not deliver international agreement on how to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

Speaking at his weekly press conference at the UN headquarters in New York, the secretary-general acknowledged warnings from diplomats involved in the talks who are increasingly sceptical that a draft treaty can be finalised at the Mexico summit.

"We need to be practical and realistic," said Ban. "It may be the case that we may not be able to have that comprehensive binding agreement in Cancun."

Echoing recent comments made by the new head of the UN climate change secretariat, Christiana Figueres, Ban said the UN would use the Cancun meeting to try and deliver agreement in a number of key areas, such as climate change funding, reforestation and the promotion of clean technology.

"On the basis of these sectoral areas, we will try to build so that we will be able to move ahead in a more comprehensive way," Ban told reporters. "First and foremost we must bridge the gap of trust between developed and developing countries."

The standoff between rich and poor nations was once again to the fore during the latest round of climate talks in Bonn last week, with diplomats revealing that efforts to slim down the draft negotiating text ahead of the Mexico summit had stalled after rival negotiating teams began to add amendments to the document in a tit-for-tat manner.

Developing countries are furious at the failure of richer nations to submit to more demanding emission-reduction targets in line with the recommendations of climate scientists, while industrialised countries have accused emerging economies of demanding unviable levels of climate funding while failing to shoulder enough of the responsibility for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

UN officials are now actively downplaying expectations ahead of the Mexico summit and are instead focusing on delivering a series of sector-based agreements that can feed into a formal treaty to be finalised at the planned 2011 summit in South Africa.

Ban's comments came as he also announced a new high-powered panel tasked with identifying new means for tackling climate change that also serve to accelerate economic development, particularly in poorer countries.

The 21-strong panel will be co-chaired by Finland's president Tarja Halonen and South African president Jacob Zuma, and will contain a host of world leaders, environment ministers, and development experts, including former Australian and Japanese prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Yukio Hatoyama; Barbadian prime minister David Thompson; Susan E. Rice, the US permanent representative to the UN; EU climate change commissioner Connie Hedegaard and Indian environment minister Jairam Ramesh.

Ban said that he expected the panel to deliver practical recommendations on how to combine low-carbon development with the need to tackle poverty, hunger, water and energy security.

"I have asked the panel to think big," he said. "The time for narrow agendas and narrow thinking is over. In short, we need a new blueprint for a more livable, prosperous and sustainable future for all."


The news content in this section is responsibility of the information agencies and does not necessarily reflect the position of the Government of Mexico on this or other related topics.

El contenido de las noticias que se presentan en esta sección es responsabilidad directa de las agencias emisoras de noticias y no necesariamente reflejan la posición del Gobierno de México en este u otros temas relacionados.


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