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China’s path to green economy fraught with challenges, finds joint UN-Government report

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27 November 2013 – China is facing significant environmental and social challenges that must be addressed if it is to achieve its sustainable development goals, according to a joint report released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Government.

“China’s Green Long March: A Study of Renewable Energy, Environmental Industry and Cement Sectors” notes that the country has a strong policy framework in place to support a national transition to a green economy.

For example, incentives, such as feed-in-tariffs, subsidies and tax advantages, already exist and are helping stimulate green investment, as are strict regulations to help phase out inefficient plants, halt water pollution and improve waste management.

The country is also a global leader in renewable energy technology investment, UNEP says in a news release. In 2012 alone, China’s renewable energy investment totalled $67.7 billion – the highest in the world and double the amount it invested in 2009.

At the same time, the joint report released this week by UNEP and China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection points out that the country is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, accounting for 27 per cent of the total emissions in 2012.

Also, while its gross domestic product (GDP) accounts for 10 per cent of the global output, it consumes 60 per cent of the world’s cement, 49 per cent of the iron and steel, and 20 per cent of the energy.

In addition, local pollution, particularly to air and water, is putting a strain on China’s economic growth. It is estimated that 90 per cent of the country’s urban water bodies are polluted, and outdoor pollution is estimated to contribute to 1.2 million premature deaths per year.

As China continues its urbanization, the report finds that the country “should not only develop more energy efficient buildings, but also create greener supply chains that reduce waste generation, water and material consumption, and energy use,” states UNEP.

Currently, buildings account for as much as one-third of global greenhouse gases, thus greening the building sector supply chain could be a key opportunity for the country, the agency says.

Among other findings, the report says there is a major technology gap between Chinese firms and their international competitors.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46602&Cr=Green+Economy&Cr1=

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Public-private partners at UN pledge to seek funding for sustainable energy for all

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27 November 2013 – The United Nations and the World Bank today announced a concerted effort by governments, international agencies, civil society and the private sector to scale up efforts to provide sustainable energy to all, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling for massive new investments in the face of a rising “global thermostat.”

“Sustainable energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, social equity, a stable climate and a healthy environment,” he told reporters after co-chairThe global thermostat is rising, threatening development goals and economies small and large. It is clear that we need a transformation in how we produce, use and share energy.ing with World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim a meeting of the Advisory Board of his Sustainable Energy For All initiative, in which he called for action in four areas: finance, energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Mr. Kim stressed that financing is key, with $600 billion to $800 billion a year needed from now until 2030 to reach the goals for access to energy, energy efficiency, and renewable energy.

“We are now starting in countries in which demand for action is most urgent,” he said. “In some of these countries, only one in 10 people has access to electricity. It is time for that to change.”

Launched two years ago, the initiative seeks to achieve three inter-linked goals by 2030: universal access to modern energy, doubling energy efficiency, and doubling the share of renewable energy, thus providing services such as lighting, clean cooking and mechanical power in developing countries, as well as improved energy efficiency, especially in the world’s highest-energy consuming countries.

Mr. Ban praised achievements already attained such as Brazil’s ‘Light for All’ programme that has reached 15 million people, Norway’s commitment of 2 billion kroner ($330 million) in 2014 for global renewable energy and efficiency, and Bank of America’s Green Bond that has raised $500 million for three years as part of its 10-year $50 billion environmental business commitment.

He also lauded OPEC’s (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) announcement of a $1 billion fund for energy access.

“Now we need others to follow and build on these commitments. Achieving the goals of Sustainable Energy For All needs massive new and additional investment,” he said, stressing the initiative’s crucial roles in achieving overall sustainable development, reducing poverty and raising opportunity, combating climate change and “laying the foundations for the future we want.”

“The global thermostat is rising, threatening development goals and economies small and large,” he added. “It is clear that we need a transformation in how we produce, use and share energy.”

Today’s meeting was the Advisory Board’s second, bringing together 42 representatives of business, finance, governments and civil society in a global public-private partnership.

It is co-chaired by Kandeh Yumkella, Director General of the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and Charles Holliday, Chairman of Bank of America. Other members include Peter Löscher, chief executive of Siemens, Ibrahim Mayaki, the chief executive of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and Petter Nore from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.

Mr. Yumkella pointed to widespread support not only for Sustainable Energy for All from numerous partners but also for energy to be at the heart of the global development agenda beyond 2015, the deadline for the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“Eighty-one countries are now participating in this initiative,” he said. “Their action is complemented by that of private sector companies and associations, as well as civil society groups. We will continue to work with key stakeholders to achieve sustainable energy for all, to drive action that transforms lives.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46605&Cr=Sustainable+Energy&Cr1=

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Ban welcomes deal at UN-led climate change talks as step towards 2015 treaty

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23 November 2013 – The United Nations-led climate talks in Warsaw, Poland, concluded today with an agreement that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called an important stepping stone towards a universal legal agreement in 2015.

“The Secretary-General welcomes the outcome of the UN Climate Change Conference that concluded today in Warsaw and he congratulates Poland for successfully hosting the Conference,” his spokesperson said in a statement.

The deal hammered out today ends two-weeks of talks between diplomats and environment experts representing more than 195 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

For the first time, the talks, which are also known as the Conference of the Parties or COP-19, included participation from the private sector, with a UN-business forum held on its sidelines.

The agreement lays the groundwork for a legally-binding treaty to be adopted in 2015, and enter force by 2020, which would cut climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions.

In today’s statement, Mr. Ban welcomed the Parties’ decision “to intensify immediate actions to fight climate change” and to come forward with their national contributions to the agreement well before its finalization in 2015.

The talks were made all the more urgent by the devastation in Philippines from Typhoon Haiyan that killed thousands of people and affected 13.25 million overall just as participants were arriving in Poland.

Today’s deal comes one year before the 2014 Climate Summit that Mr. Ban said he would convene in New York in September during the General Assembly.

Mr. Ban has asked world leaders, as well as leaders from business, finance, local government and civil society, to bring bold announcements and actions that will lead to significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions and strengthened adaptation and resilience efforts, his spokesperson said in reference to the 2014 summit.

“Much more needs to be done over the coming two years to achieve the ambitious agreement necessary to keep the global temperature rise below two degrees Celsius,” the spokesperson said in the statement.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46570&Cr=climate&Cr1=

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At climate change talks, Ban stresses major role of cities in mitigating impact

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21 November 2013 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon took his campaign to galvanise an urgent global response to climate change to the world’s cities today, stressing that changes in urban planning, home building and transportation can usher in a low-carbon future that benefits both people and the planet.

“Cities are engines of dynamism and creativity. In many respects, cities are the proving ground for our efforts to combat climate change, build resilience and achieve faster, more equitable development progress,” he told a high-level session of United Nations-led climate talks in Warsaw, Poland, devoted to the role of cities in controlling global warming and the other effects of climate change.

“Many of you in this room are working on the frontlines of climate change. We are all familiar with the challenges. Our shared responsibility is to turn them into opportunities.

By transforming how we plan our cities, build our homes and move our goods, we can usher in a low-carbon future that benefits people and the planet.”

With more than 50 per cent of the global population now urban and the proportion growing rapidly, especially in Asia and Africa, sustainable towns and cities offer substantial benefits for urban and rural areas alike, from energy and resource efficiency to public health and overall quality of life, he said.

Mr. Ban underscored the importance of cities across many dimensions, from energy and transport to water and sanitation to social cohesion and disaster risk reduction. “This complexity has made it difficult to channel urban issues into the climate discussion in a coherent way,” he said.

“Therefore I ask all of you to work with each other to ensure that we can do precisely that – and end up with results that are commensurate with the centrality of cities.”

The Secretary-General met with the representatives of various regional organisations and countries attending the Climate Change Conference, including ministers from the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the G-77 countries and China, the Africa Group, the BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China), and the European Union.

In all these meetings he discussed the 2014 Climate Summit he will convene in New York in September during the General Assembly, and he emphasized the need for tangible progress in Warsaw in order to achieve an ambitious global agreement on climate change at the Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015.

He particularly stressed the need to make progress on climate finance and to capitalise the Green Climate Fund and called for additional mitigation and adaptation measures, saying they are more urgent than ever.

In a related development the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) today announced the official opening of the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) to help developing countries make informed decisions about mitigation and adaptation technologies that suit their needs.

“As nations put in the foundations, walls and ceiling of a new, wide-ranging and universal climate agreement, the Climate Technology Centre and Network represents a further building block towards that low-carbon future,” UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said.

UNEP also noted that reducing emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O), an often-overlooked yet potent gas that could nearly double by 2050, potentially undermining gains in ozone layer recovery and exacerbating climate change, could bring benefits worth over $160 billion annually across diverse economic sectors by boosting efficiency in agriculture, by far the largest source of human-induced N2O.

This means improving the ability of crops and livestock to better utilize nitrogen, and minimising the loss of nitrogen to the environment that occurs during crop cultivation and animal production.

UN General Assembly President John W. Ashe, who is also attending the Warsaw Conference, is meeting with a series of officials and national ministers to discuss ongoing efforts to forge agreement on combating climate change.

Yesterday he conferred with French Development Minister Pascal Canfin. He also discussed the climate negotiations with the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46553&Cr=climate+change&Cr1=

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Climate finance is essential to addressing climate change, Ban tells ministers in Warsaw

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20 November 2013 – The top United Nations official today called on foreign ministers to prioritize the environment in domestic politics and contribute to climate financing as a way of moving towards a new global climate change agreement by 2015.

“This can do more than anything to unlock the huge investment necessary for climate change adaptation and mitigation,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a ministerial-level meeting on the margins of the UN-led climate change talks under way in the Polish capital, Warsaw.

“We must send the right policy signals,” Mr. Ban said, adding that the development of high-impact opportunities would unlock clean energy investments, close the viability gap between green and fossil fuel-based projects and de-risk renewable energy and low-carbon investments.

He called for public finance, private finance, and support to the Green Climate Fund as three areas for common action.

“Smart public financing can encourage local and international private investments,” the UN chief said, urging investors and companies to join forces with the public sector.

Mr. Ban today was scheduled to meet with chief executives and senior representatives attending the inaugural Caring for Climate Business Forum being held in Warsaw alongside the UN Climate Change Conference.

The Forum was launched by UN Global Compact, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat, and UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

“The bulk of institutional investors’ assets are in high0carbon investments,” noted Mr. Ban.

“These investors have the power – and I believe the responsibility – to do their part in transforming the global economy and settling us on a safer path.”

Mr. Ban also called for support to the recently established Green Climate Fund, which functions under the guidance of the Conference of the Parties (COP), and supports projects, programmes, policies and other activities in developing countries.

In addition, the Fund also aims to strengthen national ownership and enable countries to develop the capability and institutions needed to use climate finance effectively.

The UN chief described the current state of the new entity as “an empty shell” and called for it to be brought into full operation “as soon as possible” so support could be provided to developing countries’ adaptation and mitigation efforts.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46541&Cr=climate+change&Cr1=

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In Warsaw, Ban urges climate negotiators to ‘rise to the challenge,’ reach global deal

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19 November 2013 – The world need look no further than the catastrophe in the Philippines to comprehend the profound and dangerous consequences of a warming planet, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned today, urging negotiators at a United Nations conference in Warsaw to rise to the challenge “with wisdom and urgency” and pave the way to a binding climate deal by 2015.

“Climate change threatens current and future generations,” Mr. Ban said in his address to the high-level segment of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, taking place in Poland.

Extending his deepest condolences to those affected throughout the Philippines by Typhoon Haiyan, he said that all around the world, people now face and fear the wrath of a warming planet. “The science is clear. Human activities are the dominant cause of climate change. We cannot blame nature.”

Indeed, greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise and the consequences are profound, dangerous and known to all, the Secretary-General said, recalling a visit earlier this year to Iceland where the rate at which the glaciers are melting is among the fastest in the world. “I was told if we do not take urgent action now Iceland may be a land without ice soon.”

Offering another sobering example, Mr. Ban said that earlier this month he visited the Sahel, together with the President of the World Bank, and had witnessed climatic conditions – including extreme drought – undermining the region’s development and security.

“All of us in this room share a momentous responsibility. We must rise to these challenges with wisdom, urgency and resolve to address climate change,” he said, expressing deep concern that the scale of efforts being undertaken by the international community are still insufficient to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels.

But the UN chief said that he is also hopeful because there has been progress on multiple fronts towards a low-carbon future. Governments, business, community groups, women, youth and indigenous leaders are building collective capacity. New programmes for sustainable cities and climate-smart agriculture are delivering benefits of people and the planet, and global demand for renewable energy continues to rise very sharply.

“We now know it is possible to close the emissions gap. We must build on this momentum,” he said, stressing that the United Nations, for its part, is engaging on many fronts including “Greening the Blue” by reducing the Organization’s footprint and working towards climate neutrality.

Noting that delegations in Warsaw have agreed to finalize an ambitious global legal agreement on climate change by 2015, Mr. Ban acknowledged that there is “a steep climb ahead” and called for action in four areas: swift ratification by all countries of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol; stepping up on finance, including long-term finance and the Green Climate Fund; agreeing a comprehensive action agenda to meet the climate challenge; and laying firm foundations for the 2015 agreement.

“Success in Paris means bringing substantive progress to Lima. That means [in] Warsaw here we have to build a crucial stepping stone,” he said, looking ahead to the next meetings of States parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).

The Secretary-General drew attention to the climate summit he intends to convene on Tuesday, 23 September 2014, ahead of the opening, next year, of the annual General Assembly debate. That meeting is meant to complement the UNFCCC process and to be a “solutions summit,” not a negotiating session. “This will be a complimentary session to the ongoing UNFCCC negotiation process,” he said.

Inviting to this summit Heads of State and Government along with leaders from finance, business community, local government and civil society, he urged all to bring “bold and new announcements and action. We need your political leadership at this crucially important time.”

“I urge you to think in terms of your legacy,” said Mr. Ban adding: “Let us work together…to make this world better for all. Let us shape this future, our own future for all succeeding generations and environmentally sustainable planet Earth.”

In his remarks to the Conference, General Assembly president John Ashe urged negotiators to be realistic, telling them they cannot afford to ignore the harsh realities that the climate change challenge brings to the overall task of sustainable development for all. “We have now entered the era of super storms, and the human tragedies and ravages such storms and typhoons bring are part of our daily vernacular.”

“However, we in this room must never ever become inured to this. What is the point of focusing on providing jobs, livelihoods, education, and healthcare, if one storm – or maybe future super storms – wipes it all away in a few hours?” he asked, adding: “ We, all of us in this room, who represent the UN family, must reach an agreement by 2015. Period.”

Telling the Conference that “the clock is ticking,” Mr. Ashe said the time has come for Governments to stand up and say, “yes we will. Yes, we will do something. We will act. Not tomorrow, not next week, but right here. Today.”

He noted that recent catastrophic events have made it all the more obvious that action is needed. They require, he said, resolute measures and a vision well beyond the usual political posturing along with a political willingness to look beyond particular narrow interests and focus instead on the common good for all.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46531&Cr=climate+change&Cr1=

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Coal industry must diversify to avert worst impacts of climate change

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18 November 2013 – The coal industry must radically transform and diversify to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, a senior United Nations official said today at a meeting in Poland, stressing that companies must assess the risks of doing business as usual.

Addressing industry chiefs gathered in Warsaw for the International Coal and Climate Summit, organized by the Polish Government and the World Coal Association, Christiana Figueres said her presence at the meeting is neither a tacit approval of coal use nor a call for the immediate end to its use.

“I am here to say that coal must change rapidly and dramatically for everyone’s sake,” said Ms. Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The summit is taking place at the same time as the UN Climate Change Conference, also in Warsaw, and shortly after the release of the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shows that human-generated climate change is real and accelerating.

“The IPCC’s findings have been endorsed by 195 governments, including all of those in which you operate. We are at unprecedented greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere; our carbon budget is half spent.

“If we continue to meet energy needs as we have in the past, we will overshoot the internationally agreed goal to limit warming to less than two degree Celsius,” she told leaders.

Ms. Figueres said that the coal industry faces a business continuation risk that it cannot afford to ignore. “Like any other industry, you have a fiduciary responsibility to your workforce and shareholders. And by now it is abundantly clear that further capital expenditures on coal can only go ahead if they are compatible with the 2 degree Celsius limit.”

She urged the coal industry to honestly assess the financial risks of business as usual, to anticipate increasing regulation, growing finance restrictions and diminishing public acceptance and to leverage technology to reduce emissions immediately across the entire chain of coal output.

The industry also needs to diversity its portfolio beyond coal, she said, noting that the bottom line for the atmosphere is that most existing coal reserves will have to stay in the ground.

“Some major oil, gas and energy technology companies are already investing in renewables, and I urge those of you who have not yet started to do this to join them. By diversifying your portfolio beyond coal, you too can produce clean energy that reduces pollution, enhances public health, increases energy security, and creates new jobs,” she said.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46516&Cr=Climate+change&Cr1=

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Typhoon Haiyan wake-up call to speed up climate control efforts

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18 November 2013 – Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated the Philippines a week ago, is a wake-up call for the international community to speed up efforts to fight climate change, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned today, as latest estimates put the total of those affected at nearly 13 million, including over 4 million displaced and 2.5 million in need of food aid.

“Everybody now knows that climate change is happening and approaching much faster than we might have thought,” Mr. Ban said at a joint press conference with President Dalia Grybauskaite of Lithuania in Vilnius.

“Therefore, it is imperative that Member States redouble their efforts to raise the level of ambition and there should be a strong political leadership role,” he added, noting that this is why he is going to Warsaw later today to meet with leaders attending the UN climate change conference.

“I will be meeting many world leaders and ministers to ask them to raise their political awareness and political leadership role and mobilize all necessary means, particularly financial support, for developing countries so that they will be able to mitigate and adapt to this changing situation.”

Meanwhile, efforts are continuing to reach those affected by Haiyan. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) quoted the authorities as reporting that while more debris has been cleared and public services are being restored those affected are still facing power outages and fuel shortages.

Last week, the UN and its partners launched an appeal for $301 million to provide humanitarian assistance. As of Saturday, the appeal is 26 per cent funded.

Nearly half of the health facilities in four affected regions remain closed. UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos has arrived in the Philippines for a follow-up visit and is expected to visit affected areas in the coming days.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that at least 200,000 people in Tacloban, one of the worst hit cities, and six surrounding districts are now receiving clean water, with the first water treatment plant having come back to full operating capacity last night.

UNICEF, the Philippines armed forces and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) took part in negotiations resulting in an initial emergency fuel supply to run the plant for four days.

In the past 48 hours, UNICEF has been trucking and airlifting water and sanitation supplies to Tacloban and other affected areas to restore clean water supplies and reduce the threat of diseases caused by poor sanitation and contaminated water.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46520&Cr=haiyan&Cr1=

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Technology, innovation crucial to advancing sustainable development, Ban says in Estonia

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16 November 2013 – Continuing his visit to Estonia on Saturday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underscored the vital role of technology and innovation in finding solutions to some of today’s most pressing challenges such as advancing the global sustainable development agenda.

“We live in a fast-moving momentous era – a time of profound global transition – an age of promise and opportunity,” Mr. Ban said, according to remarks prepared for delivery at Tallinn University. “Estonians understand this.”

He highlighted the successful transition to a “vibrant, prosperous and democratic” society that Estonia has made in just over two decades since regaining its independence in 1991.

“You are emerging invigorated from the global economic downturn. You are a global leader in a new wave of technology that is changing the face of the world,” added Mr. Ban, who earlier in the day visited the Robotex technology exhibition, where he saw how young people from around the world are being encouraged to take up science and engineering.

Recalling how science and technology helped his own country, the Republic of Korea, to make the transition from a nation destroyed by war to one of today’s leading economies, the Secretary-General stressed the importance of science, education and hard work.

These same traits are crucial in efforts to promote economic dynamism, social progress and environmental sustainability, he added.

“Our sustainable development goals must be informed by the best science. They must be bold in ambition yet simple in design. They must be universal yet responsive to the complexities and needs of individual countries. They must be rights-based, with special emphasis on women, young people and marginalized groups. And they must protect the planet’s resources and support action to tackle climate change.”

Another crucial element to combat climate change and achieve the global anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is innovation, Mr. Ban said, noting in particular Estonia’s own efforts in this area – from having among the fastest broadband in the world and practicing e-government for more than a decade to voting and paying taxes online.

“Advances such as these are spreading rapidly in all regions. Estonia is contributing to this progress by sharing its experience with countries in this region and beyond,” he stated.

But technology and innovation does not always mean hi-tech, the Secretary-General said, pointing out that fuel-efficient cookstoves can cut respiratory disease and save the environment, while solar-powered fans can dry fish, meat and fruit, extending their shelf-life and reducing waste dramatically.

“It is clear that science and technology are central to promoting progress – from climate change to public health; from food security to sanitation; from good governance to disaster preparedness,” he said.

At the same time, he added, policy-makers are often not aware of the solutions that modern science and technology can bring to today’s challenges, and too much of the world remains cut off from scientific advances.

“Now is the time to harness the power of science for the greater good everywhere,” said Mr. Ban. “To do that, we have to close the technology gap. Countries like Estonia have an important role to play – as donors and innovators.

“We have to bridge the digital divide. We have to promote ‘pro-poor’ research that addresses the needs of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, such as small-scale farmers. Other imperatives include closing the digital divide in access to information technology and expanding education.

“In particular, we have to close the gender gap in technology,” the Secretary-General stated. “Women in low- and middle-income countries are much less likely to own a cell phone than men. And we have to provide science education to all students, especially girls, so they can train for jobs in the fields of science, technology and engineering.

“That way we can raise a new generation of engineers, entrepreneurs and visionaries.”

During his visit to Estonia, Mr. Ban met with President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, and other senior officials. Discussions focused on a range of global issues of mutual concern, as well as UN-Estonian cooperation, according to a readout of the meetings.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46509&Cr=Estonia&Cr1=

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At climate change conference, UN expert urges countries to make concrete pledges

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15 November 2013 – A United Nations independent expert today called on Governments at a conference in Warsaw, Poland, to make concrete funding commitments to tackle the effects of climate change.

“World leaders have a crucial opportunity in Warsaw to secure the foundations of a strong, fair and ambitious framework, which is essential to minimize the effects of climate change,” the Independent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity, Virginia Dandan, told negotiators from more than 190 countries taking part in the UN Climate Change Conference.

During the two-week Conference, which began on Monday, delegates are trying to reach agreement on a legally binding climate change treaty to be adopted by 2015 and enter force by 2020.

Ms. Dandan encouraged negotiators to ground their discussions in the principle of international solidarity and echoed calls for the talks not to become stalled over the issue of compensation for the effects of climate change.

“Time is too short and the consequences too great to risk these negotiations becoming caught in entrenched political positions and economic self-interest,” Ms. Dandan said.

“Warsaw is the moment for genuine collaboration among States to establish safeguards for minimizing the adverse effects of climate change on the basic human rights and fundamental freedoms of all peoples, especially those in the most vulnerable countries.”

The Independent Expert noted that the recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlighted the seriousness of climate change for every country, and stressed the need for bolder and more concrete action, especially with regard to implementing the Green Climate Fund, which was created to help developing nations protect themselves from climate impacts and build their own sustainable futures.

“But for such breakthroughs to occur, leaders must commit to working together in genuine and deep solidarity,” she said.

“I call on our leaders to build on the benchmarks for decisive action they have set in the post-2015 development agenda, committing in September to a universal, transformative approach grounded in human rights. Similar vision and action by Governments must prevail in Warsaw to set the path for the global community on climate change towards 2020 and beyond.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46498&Cr=Climate+change&Cr1=

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As global sea levels continue to rise, 2013 set to be among warmest on record

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13 November 2013 – The year 2013 is currently on course to be among the top ten warmest years since modern records began in 1850, the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said today, adding that melting ice caps and glaciers have contributed to a record high in global sea levels.

“Temperatures so far this year are about the same as the average during 2001-2010, which was the warmest decade on record,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. “All of the warmest years have been since 1998 and this year once again continues the underlying, long-term trend.”

The first nine months of 2013 tied with 2003 as the seventh warmest such period on record, with a global land and ocean surface temperature of about 0.48°C (0.86°F) above the 1961–1990 average.

“Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases reached new highs in 2012, and we expect them to reach unprecedented levels yet again in 2013. This means that we are committed to a warmer future,” Mr. Jarraud said.

However, he noted that surface temperatures are only part of the wider picture of climate change, as its impact is already being felt on the planet’s water cycle in the form of floods, extreme precipitation and droughts.

The WMO’s provisional annual statement on the Status of the Global Climate 2013, points that the global sea level has been rising at an average rate of about 3.2 millimetres per year (mm/yr). This is close to the observed rate of about 3 mm/yr of the most recent decade of (2001-2010) and double the observed 20th century trend of 1.6 mm/yr.

Mr. Jarraud said that while typhoons such as the one that slammed the Philippines last weekend cannot be directly attributed to climate change, sea level rise is making coastal populations more vulnerable when disasters strike. He added that, although the relationship between climate change and the frequency of tropical cyclones is a matter of much research, it is expected that their impact will be more intense.

WMO’s provisional annual statement seeks to provide a snapshot of regional and national temperatures. It also includes details on precipitation, floods, droughts, tropical cyclones, ice cover and sea-level. The statement was released to inform negotiators at the UN climate change conference in Warsaw, Poland, who are tasked with hammering out a universal climate treaty by 2015 which would enter into force by 2020.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46484&Cr=climate+change&Cr1=

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