7 December 2011
As the pressure mounted at the UN climate summit (COP 17) in Durban on Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon warned that the world was in danger, and that countries needed to take decisive steps towards signing a new deal on cutting carbon emissions.
Both Ban and South African President Jacob Zuma addressed the high-level segment of COP 17, where ministers and heads of state are trying to thrash out solutions to outstanding issues, including the finalisation of a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol.
“It is not an exaggeration to say that the future of our planet is at stake,” Ban said. “Science is clear – we are at a point of no return, the world is looking at you for leadership.”
He also reminded delegates to be “realistic” about a breakthrough in Durban, citing a difficult financial climate currently facing world countries.
“We must be realistic about expectations in Durban; a comprehensive agreement may be beyond our reach for now due to grave economic troubles in many countries.”
But none of these difficulties should stop negotiators from finding a long-lasting solution in Durban to build on the progress made in Cancun, Mexico last year.
Ban said that while the UN understood the difficult financial position in most countries, the world could not accept “no” for an answer in Durban.
“Let us not alter, let us not allow our deliberations to go to waste.”
Future of Kyoto Protocol
On the future of the Kyoto Protocol, Ban said Durban needed to take a decisive step, as time was “not on our side”.
The first commitment period of the 1997 treaty is coming to an end next year, and parties need to sign up for a new deal if developed countries are to continue cutting their carbon emissions.
In an impassioned speech, Zuma told the gathering of more than 190 environmental ministers that they needed to show the world that they were willing to address problems in a practical manner and were willing to put national interests aside.
“We need to use the high level segment to define our destiny as Durban remains a decisive moment for many issues … Let us remember that the globe is more important than all of us,” Zuma said.
If the issue of the Kyoto Protocol were not resolved in Durban, the other matters would remain difficult to solve, Zuma said.
For Durban to succeed, real action on adaptation, mitigation and the Green Climate Fund was needed, he added.
“Developing countries demand assurances that given the current economic climate, they will be assisted to mitigate the impacts of climate change.”