Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today that the cuts in greenhouse gas emissions proposed by the world’s largest economies are not deep enough, and warned that much more effort is needed if governments are to reach a meaningful agreement on climate change by the end of the year.
Speaking in L’Aquila, Italy, where the annual summit of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations is taking place, Mr. Ban said the climate change commitments made by the leaders of those countries and other participants in this week’s Major Economies Forum (MEF) meeting, “while welcome, are not sufficient.”
“The time for delays and half-measures is over,” he said. “The personal leadership of every head of State or government is needed to seize this moment to protect people and the planet from one of the most serious challenges ever to confront humanity.”
G8 leaders agreed this week to a long-term goal of reducing emissions by 2050, but Mr. Ban said that this target was not credible without “ambitious mid-term targets, and baselines.
“In order to achieve such a global goal, developed countries must lead by example in making firm commitments to reduce their emissions by 2020 on the order of the 25 to 40 per cent below 1990 levels that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) tells us is required. It is disappointing to note that thus far, the mid-term emissions targets announced by developed countries in the MEF are not in this range.”
The Secretary-General noted that the countries represented in L’Aquila are responsible for more than 80 per cent of global emissions, “and that is why they bear special responsibility for finding a solution to the political impasse. If they fail to act this year, they will have squandered a unique historical opportunity that may not come again… We stand at a historical crossroads. Business as usual is no longer viable.”
Mr. Ban is convening a global summit on climate change in New York in September, when world leaders converge for the annual opening of the General Assembly, in a bid to build momentum ahead of talks in Copenhagen in December that are supposed to result in a far-reaching new pact on greenhouse gas emissions.
He stressed that every country must play its part, “based on the principle of equity.” Affluent countries can provide funding and technological assistance to poorer States so they can reduce or mitigate the impact of emissions, while those developing countries can step up their own efforts to reduce emissions.
Mr. Ban also urged world leaders to work harder to deal with other pressing global challenges, especially food insecurity and the (A)H1N1 influenza pandemic.
He welcomed the G8’s pledge to spend $15 billion over the next three years to tackle food insecurity and improve agriculture, but noted that “now we need to deliver on that pledge, and work together to boost national action plans, in an integrated manner.”
Turning to influenza, the Secretary-General said the pandemic was “starting to accelerate in a disturbing way” and G8 members therefore should commit to at least $1 billion in additional spending to assist struggling countries with overloaded health-care systems.
“We have a small window of opportunity to help poor countries access what they need to get ready for the virus,” he said.