– Climate Change boss tells Summit opening
By Neil Marks in Copenhagen
The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Yvo de Boer, plucked out of the Guyanese creole book the saying ‘Wan wan dutty build dam” as he opened the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen to push for a new climate change agreement despite many obstacles.
Pressure for a Copenhagen deal hinges on overwhelming evidence that “the world would benefit greatly from early action and that delay would only lead to costs in economic and human terms that would become progressively high,” said Nobel peace prize winner, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Over recent weeks and months, de Boer said he had heard a multitude of strong political statements calling for a successful and ambition agreement in Copenhagen. He said these statements have called for an agreement that offers serious emission limitation goals and that captures the provision of significant financial and technological support to developing countries.
He then came to the Guyanese proverb “wan wan dutty build dam” stating that “solid success also needs to be built brick by brick and from the bottom up.”
For de Boer, the ideal Christmas cake that needs to come out of Copenhagen has three layers. First, he said the bottom layer consists of fast and effective implementation of action on mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) and capacity building.
Secondly, de Boer said the next layer consists of ambitious emission reduction commitments and actions. It also includes commitments to start-up finance in the order of US$10 billion per year as well as long term finance.
Thirdly, he said the final layer, or the icing on the cake, consists of a shared vision on long-term co-operative action on climate change and a long-term goal.
“I hope (Danish) Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen will light the candles on this cake next Friday,” said de Boer.
“I know two things for sure. There will be many more steps on the road to a safe climate future but also few turning points. And Copenhagen must be such a turning point.”
The working groups have six days to develop action-oriented proposals before ministers arrive. Ministers will then have two days to take issues forward before world leaders arrive. This means that there are a total of eight days to prepare a workable package that consists of both immediate and long-term commitments, which leaders can endorse on December 18.
The President of the meeting, Connie Hedegaard, spared no bones in her efforts to get the working groups to co-operate in overcoming obstacles.
“This is the time to deliver; this is the place to commit,” she declared, urging an opening of the door to the “low carbon age.”
Dr Rajendra Pachauri of the IPCC, quoted earlier, said this conference must lead to action for implementation by all parties, “taking into account their common but differentiated responsibilities.”
He said warming of the climate system is unequivocal as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global sea level.
In the 1900s, he said average global temperature increased by 0.74 degrees Celsius, while sea level rise resulting from thermal expansion of the ocean and melting of ice across the globe amounted to 17 centimetres.
“With this increase, the Maldive Islands, several other small island states and low lying coastal nations like Bangladesh with land surface barely a metre or two above sea level would find that every storm surge and major upwelling of the seas represents a serious danger to life and property.”
“The global community thus has a moral and material responsibility to do all it can to limit the growing impacts of climate change on these and other vulnerable societies across the globe,” Pachauri declared.
But here in Copenhagen, there is widespread speculation that a deal would not be concluded.
But even if these negotiations fail to come up with a legally binding agreement, what could emerge is a set of decisions.
One of those decisions could be to say an agreement will be finalised in six months or perhaps a year. Another decision could be to say whenever a new deal is struck, it must include an arrangement to pay countries which have preserved their forests, or countries which are reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. If that can happen, then there could be some talk of success even if there is failure.
Until now, nations with high levels of forest cover have attracted less cash than countries which have destroyed the forest, but are saying, they will stop or at least slow down.
President Bharrat Jagdeo says this must change. He has been getting global attention for a strategy that points out how forest-rich nations could use money they get from any new global climate agreement. Norway has already said it will give Guyana US$250 million over the next five years to show how this will happen.
An expert study has concluded that if Guyana were to cut down the forests to make money from logging, mining or large scale agriculture, the amount of cash rolling in could amount to US$580 million annually.
That is the money President Jagdeo hopes Copenhagen can come up with.
But an independent study has said Guyana must show how it came up with that figure because it just seems to be too much and there is no way the international community will part, for that reason, with that sort of money.
That independent study was commissioned by the governments of Guyana and Norway.
Guyana’s delegation to this Summit is being led by President Jagdeo and Yvonne Pearson, the chairman of the National Toshoas Council, which represents Amerindian people across Guyana.
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