UN Chief Says Time to Act as Climate Talks Heat Up

Ban Ki-moon calls for nations to make progress in reaching global pact as top climate envoys gather at annual summit

Pubished by Anadolu Agency Dec 9

The UN chief on Tuesday urged nations here to work toward striking a global climate deal, as the arrival of top envoys invigorated the final week of talks.

Among Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s five requests was the call for countries to post their “nationally determined” plans to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases by the first quarter of 2015.

“There is still a chance to stay within the internationally-agreed ceiling of a less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) global temperature rise,” Ban said during the plenary of the 20th Conference of the Parties, or COP20. “But the window of opportunity is fast narrowing.”

“We must act now,” he said.

Delegates from almost 200 nations are aiming to move beyond the much criticized Kyoto treaty, in securing a draft text to be negotiated and ratified next year in Paris.

Ban called on countries to keep up pledges to the Green Climate Fund that prepares developing countries for climate change, as well as for adaptation of financing for those most vulnerable to rising impacts, such as droughts or floods.

Nations are due to produce a collective draft agreement by Friday evening, leaving a little more than three days if talks stick to schedule.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC, says net greenhouse gas emissions need to be below zero by 2050 to avoid a 3.6 F temperature rise deemed “dangerous” by scientists. Countries may emit only another 1,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent to lock in this increase, having already used two-thirds of the so-called “carbon budget.”

A joint announcement by the U.S. and China last month with pledges to reduce emissions, and a mounting body of scientific evidence on climate change has bolstered the case for action.

“This is a crucial week for our common endeavor for climate change,” said COP20 President Manuel Pulgar-Vidal told the audience. Pulgar-Vidal is also Peru’s environment minister.

Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC Christiana Figueres told diplomats to “assume your undeniable role as leaders of the urgent pressure and stewards of a shared future.”

After over two decades of failed attempts to avert climate change, the Lima summit has been marked by a desire for compromise.

“Optimistic” was how Kenya’s head of delegation described the state of talks after the first week.

“This has been a very warm COP in my assessment after attending several in the past,” Environment Secretary Alice Akinyi Kaudia told The Anadolu Agency.

But divisions between developed and developing counties about the draft’s content have re-emerged as parties staked out positions last week.

Developed countries have focused on mitigation targets to reduce emissions in the agreement to take effect in 2020, while developing countries have called for measures for adaptation and technology transfer to be included.

Others, including small island nations at threat from rising sea levels, have clamored for “loss and damage” funds to be separate from adaptation costs.

“You can’t hide the divergent positions, but we believe that the positive and willing mood will continue, as well as opening up the necessary spaces to take the next steps for Paris in 2015,” Costa Rica’s top envoy, Edgar Gutierrez Espeleta said.

Among speakers from Tanzania and the Pacific island of Nauru, Bolivian President Evo Morales jolted the mood with an incendiary speech that lambasted “capitalist” nations for causing climate change.

“We’re here to reach a climate agreement for life, not for the businesses of the mercantilists, we mustn’t deceive, we can’t continue in climate change negotiations without results,” Morales said on behalf of the G77 countries and China.

The Bolivian leader wants to set up a “climatic justice tribunal,” adding that the defense of Mother Earth alongside the ruling “financial architecture” of the capitalist system are incompatible.

As many of 12,000 attendees will participate in the two-week summit which takes place on a military barracks in the center of Peru’s capital Lima.

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