What I ex­pect from­cli­mate change con­fer­ence

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

For the nearly nine years that I have been theUnit­edNa­tions sec­re­tary-gen­eral, I have trav­eled the world to the front-lines of cli­mate change, and I have spo­ken re­peat­edly with world lead­ers, busi­ness­peo­ple and cit­i­zens about the need for an ur­gent global re­sponse.

Why do I care so much about this is­sue?

First, like any grand­fa­ther, I wantmy grand­chil­dren to enjoy the beauty and bounty of a healthy planet. And like any hu­man be­ing, it grieves me to see that floods, droughts and fires are get­ting worse, that is­land na­tions will dis­ap­pear and un­counted species will be­come ex­tinct.

As Pope Fran­cis and other faith lead­ers have re­minded us, we have a moral re­spon­si­bil­ity to act in sol­i­dar­ity with the poor and most vul­ner­a­ble who have done least to cause cli­mate change and will suf­fer first and worst from its ef­fects.

Sec­ond, as the head of theUN, I have pri­or­i­tized cli­mate change be­cause no coun­try can meet this chal­lenge alone. Cli­mate change car­ries no pass­port; emis­sions re­leased any­where con­trib­ute to the prob­lem every­where. It is a threat to lives and liveli­hoods every­where. Eco­nomic sta­bil­ity and the se­cu­rity of na­tions are un­der threat. Only through the UNcan we re­spond col­lec­tively to this quintessen­tially global is­sue.

The ne­go­ti­a­tion process has been slow and cum­ber­some. But we are see­ing re­sults. In re­sponse to the UN’s call, more than 166 coun­tries, which col­lec­tively ac­count for more than 90 per cent of emis­sions, have now sub­mit­ted na­tional cli­mate plans with tar­gets. If suc­cess­fully im­ple­mented, th­ese na­tional plans will bend the emis­sions curve down to a pro­jected global tem­per­a­ture rise of about 3 de­grees Cel­sius by the end of the cen­tury.

This is sig­nif­i­cant progress. But it is still not enough. The chal­lenge now is to move much fur­ther and faster to re­duce global emis­sions so we can keep global tem­per­a­ture rise to be­low 2 C. At the same time, we must sup­port coun­tries to adapt to the in­evitable con­se­quences that are al­ready upon us.

The sooner we act, the greater the ben­e­fits for all: in­creased sta­bil­ity and se­cu­rity; stronger, more sus­tain­able eco­nomic growth; en­hanced re­silience to shocks; cleaner air and wa­ter; im­proved health.

We will not get there overnight. The cli­mate change con­fer­ence in Paris is not the end point. It must mark the floor, not the ceil­ing of our am­bi­tion. It must be the turn­ing point to­ward a low-emis­sion, cli­mate-re­silient fu­ture.

Around the world, mo­men­tum is build­ing. Cities, busi­nesses and in­vestors, faith lead­ers and cit­i­zens are act­ing to re­duce emis­sions and build re­silience. The re­spon­si­bil­ity now rests with gov­ern­ments to con­clude a mean­ing­ful, bind­ing agree­ment in Paris that pro­vides clear rules of the road for strength­en­ing global am­bi­tion. For this, ne­go­tia­tors need clear guidance from the top.

I be­lieve this is forth­com­ing. The lead­ers of the G20, who met ear­lier this month in An­talya, Tur­key, showed strong com­mit­ment to cli­mate ac­tion. And more than 120 heads of state and gov­ern­ment have con­firmed their par­tic­i­pa­tion in Paris de­spite height­ened se­cu­rity con­cerns in the wake of the ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

I see four es­sen­tial el­e­ments for Paris to be a suc­cess: dura­bil­ity, flex­i­bil­ity, sol­i­dar­ity and cred­i­bil­ity.

First, dura­bil­ity. Paris must pro­vide a long-term vi­sion con­sis­tent with a be­low2C­tra­jec­tory, and send a clear sig­nal to mar­kets that the low-car­bon trans­for­ma­tion of the global econ­omy is in­evitable, ben­e­fi­cial and al­ready un­der way.

Sec­ond, the agree­ment must pro­vide flex­i­bil­ity so it does not need to be con­tin­u­ally rene­go­ti­ated. It must be able to ac­com­mo­date changes in the global econ­omy and strike a bal­ance be­tween the lead­er­ship role of de­vel­oped coun­tries and the in­creas­ing re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

Third, the agree­ment must demon­strate sol­i­dar­ity, in­clud­ing through fi­nanc­ing and tech­nol­ogy trans­fer for de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. De­vel­oped coun­tries must keep their pledge to pro­vide $100 bil­lion a year by 2020 for adap­ta­tion and mit­i­ga­tion alike.

Fourth, an agree­ment must demon­strate cred­i­bil­ity in re­spond­ing to rapidly es­ca­lat­ing cli­mate im­pacts. It must in­clude reg­u­lar five-year cy­cles for gov­ern­ments to as­sess and strengthen their na­tional cli­mate plans in line with what science de­mands. Paris must also in­clude trans­par­ent and ro­bust mech­a­nisms for mea­sur­ing, mon­i­tor­ing and re­port­ing progress.

TheUN­s­tands fully ready to sup­port coun­tries in im­ple­ment­ing such an agree­ment.

A mean­ing­ful cli­mate agree­ment in Paris will build a bet­ter to­day— and tomorrow. It will help us end poverty. Clean our air and pro­tect our oceans. Im­prove pub­lic health. Cre­ate newjobs and cat­alyze green in­no­va­tions. It will ac­cel­er­ate progress to­wards all of theUNSus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals. That is why I care so deeply about cli­mate change.

My mes­sage to world lead­ers is clear: suc­cess in Paris de­pends on you. Nowis the time for com­mon sense, com­pro­mise and con­sen­sus. It is time to look be­yond na­tional hori­zons and to put the com­mon in­ter­est first. The peo­ple of the world— and gen­er­a­tions to come— count on you to have the vi­sion and courage to seize this his­toric mo­ment.

The au­thor is sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the United Na­tions.

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