UN Secretary-General calls for greater global leadership in tackling climate change
1 September 2008 - As the world focuses on devastating floods in India and the latest hurricane threat to the southern United States, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for greater global leadership in tackling climate change, singling out the United States as having a particularly significant part to play.
"The United States will have to take one of the most important leadership roles," he said at a press conference in Geneva. "The United States is the largest, biggest emission producing country. In fact, the United States so far, until now, has been taking a constructive role in the negotiations of the [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] UNFCCC through their initiative of convening a major economies conference, but I think that is not enough. All the countries of the international community are looking forward to more and greater leadership of the United States."
The Secretary-General was speaking after the 20th anniversary session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), established in 1988 to communicate the definitive science of climate change to the world's governments.
Underscoring the need to maintain momentum towards an agreement on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol by the December 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, Secretary-General Ban paid tribute to the accomplishments of the IPCC.
Noting that the IPCC's "rigorous scientific tradition" in relating science to public policy, Secretary-General Ban said: "It is crucial that this new agreement measures up to your Panel's scientific findings. That is why I look to you to constantly make the scientific case for action on the road to Copenhagen, and indeed beyond."
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, also highlighted the importance of the meeting in Copenhagen in his speech to the IPCC.
"There are just some 500 days for governments to deliver what the world is waiting for in Copenhagen in 2009. The facts and figures from IPCC delivered in 2007, and which powered the Bali climate convention meeting into high gear, remain as valid and as sobering today as they did just over six months ago."
IPCC predictions are that extreme weather events, such as Hurricane Gustav and 2005's Hurricane Katrina, and the current floods that have rendered 1.2 million people homeless India's Bihar state, will continue to increase in frequency and intensity due to climate change, affecting more and more people and economies around the world.