Ban Ki-moon: World leaders are ready to sign climate deal

Political landscape is different from disastrous attempt to sign climate deal in 2009, says UN secretary general

(UN Photo/Evan Schneider)

(UN Photo/Evan Schneider)

By Sophie Yeo

World leaders are ready to sign an international agreement to combat climate change, says UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon.

In contrast to their failed efforts five years ago in Copenhagen, politicians will head to Paris in 2015 prepared to sign a meaningful climate deal, said Ban, speaking at the launch of the UN’s latest climate science report.

“We had intensive in depth discussions in 2009 in Copenhagen, but maybe looking back at that time the world leaders might not have been fully ready to engage themselves. They were more focusing on national priorities rather than global priorities,” he said.

“Since then we have been building up on what we discussed in Copenhagen.”

The secretary general added that the UN was working very hard to ensure a draft text of the new agreement is delivered by this year’s discussions in Lima, so that negotiations are no longer “just talking”.

“I’m confident that we will do it, we can make it happen.”

Post-Copenhagen world

Ban spoke today at the launch of the latest report by the UN’s science panel, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC].

The report spells out the impacts of climate change, and confirms that the majority of the warming seen since the industrial era is a result of human activity.

Scientists and governments have worked intensively over the last week to prepare the report, meeting once again in Copenhagen.

The location has been a bitter reminder for some of the 2009 conference, branded at the time as “No Hopenhagen” thanks to its failure to secure a deal committing governments to meaningful action on climate change.

A recent round of talks in Bonn ended in stalemate, with countries unable to agree on what their contributions to a proposed 2015 climate deal could look like.

But also speaking at the IPCC launch, Manuel Pulgar Vidal, environment minister of Peru and president of this year’s set of main UN negotiations in Lima said he felt hopeful about the prospects of success.

“We are in a completely different process in contrast to what we have in Copenhagen five years ago. We are closer to the science, with more actors like business and civil society.”

Much of his optimism will hinge on whether satisfactory levels of finance are delivered by rich countries in order to fund the green transition in the poorest nations.

Pulgar Vidal called on politicians to make strong pledges to the UN’s Green Climate Fund in two weeks’ time when they meet in Berlin.

Involvement

The IPCC report released today will also have an impact on the negotiations, providing a robust scientific basis on which world leaders can base their commitments, said Michel Jarraud, head of the World Meteorological Association.

“Ignorance can no longer be used as an excuse. This is a fundamental difference compared to 2009,” he said.

And the process now involves more actors than ever before.

At the UN climate summit hosted by Ban Ki-moon in September, over a thousand businesses signalled their support for a global price on carbon, while hundreds of thousands of people marched in cities across the world to demand more action on climate change.

“There is a strong head of positive steam building towards Lima and Paris,” said Christiana Figueres, head of the UN’s climate body.

“The IPCC has and will continue to play a crucial role in bringing forward the science upon which the transformational policies needed to realize a low carbon, and ultimately climate neutral world in the second half of the century, can be forged.”

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