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COP21: Ban tells world leaders &#39a political moment like this may not come again&#39


30 November 2015 – Speaking at the opening of the United Nations climate change conference (COP21) which seeks to reach a new universal agreement to protect people and planet, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said a political moment like this may not come again.

“You are here today to write the script for a new future,” Mr. Ban told around 150 world leaders attending the kick-off of the much-anticipated conference in Paris, France.

“We have never faced such a test,” he continued. “But neither have we encountered such great opportunity. You have the power to secure the well-being of this and succeeding generations.”

Opening the floor alongside the President of France, François Hollande, the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, and the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres, the UN chief recalled that last September, an “inspiring” new sustainable development agenda with ambitious goals was endorsed by all Heads of State and Government.

“You showed your commitment to act for the common good,” he underlined. “It is now time to do so again. I urge you to instruct your negotiators to choose the path of compromise and consensus. Bold climate action is in the national interest of every single country represented at this conference.”

Insisting that Paris must mark a turning point, Mr. Ban stated that the world needs to know that it is headed to a low-emissions, climate-resilient future, and that “there is no going back.”

Ahead of COP21, countries submitted voluntary climate action plans to UNFCCC, the UN entity organizing the conference. These are formally called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs, and will form the basis of the agreement expected to be reached in two weeks.

The Secretary-General announced today that more than 180 countries have now submitted their national climate plans which cover close to 100 per cent of global emissions.

“This is a good start,” he said. “But we need to go much farther and much faster if we are to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius.”

According to experts, even a 2-degree rise will have serious consequences for food and water security, economic stability and international peace, which is why a universal, meaningful agreement in Paris is crucial, Mr. Ban told the leaders.

Turning to success criteria at COP21, Mr. Ban said the agreement must be durable, dynamic, embody solidarity with the poor and most vulnerable, and finally, the agreement must be credible.

“Developed countries must keep their pledge to mobilize $100 billion dollars a year by 2020,” he added. “A new agreement must also include a single transparent framework for measuring, monitoring and reporting progress. And countries with low capacity should receive flexibility and support so they can meet the requirements of this new system.”


Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52683

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COP21: on eve of UN climate conference, Ban says &#39time for action is now&#39


29 November 2015 – On the eve of the opening in Paris of the United Nations climate change conference, widely known as COP21, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging all countries and all sectors of society to act now to reach a new universal climate agreement.

“I’m reasonably optimistic and convinced that world leaders will adopt a very ambitious universal climate change agreement at this COP21,” Mr. Ban told the UN News Centre in an interview on Sunday at the Parisian headquarters of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“We’ve been working very hard, very long – the time for action is now. I have seen growing political momentum among Member States. They know that they have to take action.”

Ahead of COP21, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – the UN entity organizing the conference – has already received some 180 voluntary climate action plans from countries. Formally called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs, these will form the basis of the agreement expected to be reached.

As more and more INDCs were submitted, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said this shows nations are prepared to take meaningful action to address climate change. Many countries have also indicated they would like to see a mechanism in the agreement that will allow them to ramp up their ambition to reach the goal of limiting a global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

According to experts, a temperature rise beyond this level will cause irreversible damage to the planet by exacerbating droughts, floods, food and water shortages, affecting the most vulnerable countries first. Despite the scientific community acknowledging that the national pledges submitted so far will not limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius, Mr. Ban has underscored that a successful outcome at COP21 would allow the world to ultimately achieve this target.

Tomorrow, around 150 Heads of State and Government are expected at the opening event at the Paris-Le Bourget site, an 18 hectare conference centre north-east of the capital. This space will be the main venue for the two-week meeting, with 32 “negotiating rooms,” working areas for delegations, civil society and journalists, as well as many venues dedicated to side events.

Simultaneously, within the city borders, special events will be held – such as “an afternoon with Robert Redford” at UNESCO on 6 December, and the awarding of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Equator prize – often referred to as the Academy Awards of sustainable development – taking place at the renowned Théatre Mogador.

At the conference, the interconnectivity between sustainable development and climate issues will be one of the overarching themes. In September, world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is composed of 17 goals – the SDGs – to wipe out poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change over the next 15 years.

Asked how a new climate deal and these SDGs are linked, the UN Secretary-General said a strong climate agreement backed by action on the ground will help the world achieve the global goals “to make the world better and safer.”

“Goal number 13 [focuses on] climate change but if we do not implement the climate change agreement, then all the remaining 16 goals will be affected. Not a single goal can be implemented in isolation,” Mr. Ban explained.

“Science has made it plainly clear – that this climate change phenomenon is caused by human behaviour,” he continued. “It’s only natural that we human beings should change our behaviour in a sustainable way. We have to do it. We don’t have any time to lose. That’s why I am urging world leaders to demonstrate their moral and political leadership for humanity.”

The UN News Centre asked the Secretary-General what makes him optimistic that, in a world full of disease, war and famine, world leaders can work together instead of in their own self-interest.

“[Climate change] doesn’t care about national boundaries,” he stated. “This is a global phenomenon and [leaders] understand that investing wisely in climate change will help their national economy boost. There are many countries who are investing in sustainable energy including solar energy. It’s skyrocketing.”

The UN climate conference will officially open Monday when the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, is elected President of COP21. Negotiations towards a final agreement are expected to conclude on 11 December.

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General today met with French President François Hollande to discuss the status of negotiations and identify key issues still under discussion. A readout issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said they agreed that “failure to reach an agreement was not an option and would have disastrous consequences.”

The two leaders also exchanged views on the issue of counter-terrorism and shared their concern of a growing influence of Da’esh beyond Syria and Iraq.

In addition, Mr. Ban stood in solidarity today with the people of Paris who were unable to join a climate march, after it was cancelled last week due to security concerns.

Alongside scores of other people, he donated a pair of his “marching shoes” to be placed at the city’s Place de la République near the scene of 20 November’s terror attack, and where the climate march was due to start.

“As the world gathers in Paris to stand up for climate action, let us also stand in the shoes of all victims of terrorism, war and persecution – and respond with compassion,” said a note he wrote and left at the scene.

Following the event, the thousands of shoes contributed were donated to a non-governmental organization working with Syrian refugees.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52682

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Indigenous people need support to reinforce resilience against climate change – UNESCO


27 November 2015 – Building resilience “is deeply rooted in [the] lifestyles and social solidarity” of the more than 400 million indigenous people – from the Samis of northern Europe, Berbers in Morocco to Vanuatu communities in the Pacific – who are feeling the adverse effects of climate change even they contribute little to its causes, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“Indigenous peoples suffer from the impacts of climate change, but they are not passive victims,” said Flavia Schlegel, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, which is hosting at its headquarters in Paris a two-day conference, ‘Resilience in a time of uncertainty: Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change.’

“They respond, innovate and adapt to this changing context, and this source of resilience is deeply rooted in their lifestyles and social solidarity,” Ms. Schlegal told the scientists, decision makers and indigenous peoples to share their knowledge and solutions, as governments are preparing a coherent response to the climate crisis in Paris at the UN climate change conference – known as COP21 – which kicks off Monday, 30 November.

In a press release, UNESCO said “indigenous peoples need support to reinforce their resilience.”

According to the agency, more than 400 million of the world’s indigenous peoples live in territories that are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, such as the Samis of northern Europe, Berbers living in the High Atlas in Morocco, indigenous villagers in Alaska, or Vanuatu communities in the Pacific Ocean.

The objective of the conference that opened Thursday “is to understand the contributions that diverse knowledge systems, such as indigenous knowledge, can make to reinforce the climate change knowledge base, and to highlight practical community-based solutions and initiatives while reinforcing the links between cultural diversity and the sustainability of the global environment,” according to UNESCO.

“The voices of indigenous peoples, so often side-lined in climate change debates, rang clearly from the podium at the opening of an international conference focusing on reinforcing resilience,” the organization said.

A UN independent human rights expert said climate change is threatening their way of life.

“It has been shown that decisions, policies and actions undertaken by the majority, even if well-intended, may prove inadequate, ill-adapted, and even inappropriate simply because decision-makers do not understand nor know the aspirations, rights and capacities of indigenous peoples,” said Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Ms. Tauli-Corpuz called for the “successful adaptation and resilience achieved through processes that are community-driven, sensitive to local histories, ecologies and priorities.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52666

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Ban appoints experienced Australian national as new UN disaster risk reduction chief


27 November 2015 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced the appointment of Australia’s Robert Glasser as Assistant Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

Mr. Glasser will succeed Margareta Wahlström of Sweden, to whom Mr. Ban is grateful for her dedication and excellent leadership of UNISDR over the past seven years, according to the spokesperson of the Secretary-General.

Mr. Glasser has over 20 years of experience in in disaster response and fighting poverty. Currently, he is the Executive-in-Residence at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), where he has focussed on the humanitarian impacts of climate change.

Prior to this role, Mr. Glasser worked with CARE International, where he had been Secretary General since 2007.

Before joining CARE International, Mr. Glasser was Chief Executive of CARE Australia, overseeing aid and humanitarian relief programmes in Cambodia, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and the Middle East, and he previously held the post of Assistant Director General of the Australian Government aid programme.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52669

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UN agencies weigh in on climate change impacts ahead of Paris conference


27 November 2015 – In the weeks leading up to the United Nations climate change conference (COP21), which begins in Paris on Monday and aims to reach a new universal climate agreement, many of the Organization’s agencies and programmes announced their latest climate-related findings, bringing to light new data, major concerns, and underlining existing and potential opportunities to preserve the planet.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported that the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached yet another new record high in 2014, continuing a “relentless rise” which is fueling climate change and will make the planet more dangerous and inhospitable for future generations.

Just days later, the agency shared more “bad news for the planet,” warning that 2015 is likely to be the warmest year on record, breaching the symbolic and significant milestone of 1 degree Celsius above the pre-industrial era.

In addition, data from the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) revealed that over the last 20 years, 90 per cent of major disasters have been caused by 6,457 recorded floods, storms, heatwaves, droughts and other weather-related events.

Echoing this message was the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which underlined that natural disasters triggered by climate change have risen in frequency and severity over the last three decades, increasing the damage caused to the agricultural sectors of many developing countries and putting them at risk of growing food insecurity.

The World Food Programme (WFP) further insisted that without “ambitious action” to address the causes and consequences of climate change, hunger cannot be eradicated. During the global gathering in Paris, the agency will launch its Food Security Climate Resilience (FoodSECuRE) Facility, a new tool that will help respond to climate disasters before they occur based on climate forecasts.

Ahead of COP21, the World Bank said “climate-smart” development can keep 100 million people out of poverty. According to the Bank’s latest findings, the poorest people are more exposed than the average population to climate-related shocks, and they lose much more of their wealth when they are hit.

Noting the significant impact climatic activities have on African people and countries, the Bank also unveiled a $16 billion business plan to boost the continent’s climate resilience, outlining actions required to maintain and protect its growth and poverty reduction goals.

Raising awareness on groups most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said youngsters will bear the brunt. More than half a billion children reportedly live in areas with extremely high flood occurrence and 160 million in high drought severity zones, leaving them highly exposed.

Recalling that indigenous peoples own, occupy or manage up to 65 per cent of the Earth’s land surface – and that their voices must be heard in Paris – the UN Development Programme (UNDP) expressed significant concern regarding the exclusion of their issues from national plans to combat climate change. Formally called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs, these will form the basis of the agreement expected to be reached at COP21.

Meanwhile, the important role that nuclear power could play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions was the focus of a new report released by the UN International Atomic Energy (IAEA). It highlighted that nuclear power is one of the major low-carbon energy sources currently available, and many countries believe that it can help them to address the twin challenges of ensuring reliable energy supplies while curbing emissions.

From the UN entity organizing the conference – the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – came a set of best practice climate policies from across the world. ‘Climate Action Now’ was introduced in Bonn, Germany, as a solutions guide, revealing a “wealth of existing opportunities” to immediately scale up reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Finally, according to a report released by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the implementation of the national target plans will limit greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, but a new climate agreement can encourage further action that will be necessary to limit global temperature rise to 2 degree Celsius by 2100.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52671

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Ban takes call for action on climate change to Commonwealth summit in Malta


27 November 2015 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon took his call for urgent action on climate change to the Heads of Government of the 53-nation, 2.2-billion-people-strong Commonwealth today, declaring that the stars seemed aligned for at last making major progress on the issue.

“We must take action. We have spoken for a long time – at least 20 years, longer than 20 years – and the science has made it plainly clear,” he said at a news conference on the margins of the Commonwealth summit in Malta, on the eve of the two-week-long UN climate change conference, widely known as COP21, opening in Paris on Monday.

“Now I hope this will [also] be the last place to talk about this and I hope we have a good and ambitious agreement in Paris,” he stressed, citing the years of effort to rein in greenhouse gas emissions that threaten to radically impact the world as we know it, from rising sea levels overwhelming low-lying island States to devastating droughts and floods.

Five years ago at a climate change summit in Durban, South Africa, Member States agreed in their Declaration: let us agree on a universal, legally binding, ambitious climate change agreement by 2015, Mr. Ban stressed.

“I think that [now] all the stars seem to be aligning. There is a strong commitment, not only from the Government but from the business communities and civil society.

“And people on the ground, urge the leaders of today to make this world better and environmentally sustainable so that our succeeding generations can live in peace and harmony and prosperity, in a safer way,” he added.

“We are going to make it happen and the time for taking action is now. We cannot again delay or postpone it until tomorrow.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) with President François Hollande (right) of France, and Ségolène Royal, Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy of France. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) greets Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales and Crown Prince of the United Kingdom. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) with George W. Vella, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Malta. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) meets with David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) meets with Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom in Malta. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

While in Malta Mr. Ban held talks with Queen Elizabeth II and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52675

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&#8220If we take action now, we can address climate change and build a sustainable future&#8221 &#8211 Janos Pasztor


25 November 2015 – Just days away from the kick-off of the 21st United Nations climate change conference — widely known as COP21 — the UN is reminding its main actors that this conference must be a turning point for climate action.

Beginning on Monday in France’s capital, Paris, world leaders will be negotiating a new climate change agreement that aims to keep global average temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) — beyond which climate experts say there will be irreversible impacts.

The two-week conference, the 21st Meeting of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), also aims to send a loud and clear signal to citizens, markets and the private sector that the transformation of the global economy is inevitable, beneficial, and already under way.

To find out more about COP21 and the UN’s expectations, the UN News Centre met with Janos Pasztor, the UN Assistant Secretary-General on Climate Change. Since January, Mr. Pasztor’s work has focused on supporting efforts towards a new climate agreement and mobilizing global climate action on the ground.

Climate change affects us all, but our actions affect climate change.

UN News Centre: What is the importance of the upcoming 21st United Nations climate change conference – COP21?

Janos Pasztor: There are at least two major points. First of all, if we have a good agreement it will allow us to move towards a low-carbon, low-emission future, where there are lots of opportunities for new technology developments and new ways of organizing ourselves. That is an opportunity we must take. Secondly, climate change is already happening. The impacts are already visible. If we take action now, we can address climate change as we move toward a low-emission economy and build a sustainable future. The more we delay, the more we will pay.

UN News Centre: Why do we need to keep the global average temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius?

Janos Pasztor: If we allow warming to go beyond that, scientists tell us there are likely to be potential irreversible impacts on people, on natural ecosystems, and therefore, on the economies of the world. Now the 2 degrees is not a very hard level. Many are saying that it actually has to be much less than 2 degrees for the small island developing countries whose land might become completely inundating with a sea level rise. Already 2 degrees is way too much. So, it must be remembered that when we talk of 2 degrees, it is the maximum. It must be kept as much as possible below that.

10 Things You Need to Know About COP21. Credit: United Nations

UN News Centre: What is the best outcome possible from COP21?

Janos Pasztor: We are expecting a package of outcomes and it will have four elements – they’re interrelated but they’re different.

The first one will be the national plans for climate change of each country, for mitigation and adaptation to climate change. Those are plans that are developed “bottom up” by the countries – this is what they can do.

The second element will be the actual agreement. It will contain the rules of the game on how countries will assess the impact of the totality of the national plans on the objective to keep warming below 2 degrees. And then they will review and assess what it takes to raise the ambition to make sure that we keep below those 2 degrees of global warming. That will be the core of that agreement.

The third part is climate finance. All of this will require financing, public and private finance, and there will be some parts of this package of finance that will go into the agreement.

And the fourth is the action agenda – a collection of actions on the ground to do either mitigation or adaption, and it’s to demonstrate that it’s already possible, it’s already happening and to showcase what are the good partnerships between private sector, public sector and civil society to actually do the work on the ground.

UN News Centre: What are the main challenges ahead?

If we take action now, we can address climate change as we move toward a low-emission economy and build a sustainable future. The more we delay, the more we will pay.

Janos Pasztor: The main challenge ahead is to negotiate the agreement. That’s the bottom line. And we have very little time. In fact, the last negotiation week finished recently in Bonn [Germany]. What we now have left in terms of formal negotiation time is only that period during the actual Conference of the Parties [COP] in Paris, the first two weeks of December.

UN News Centre: Can you give us an overview of key issues that are left to be negotiated – what different countries are claiming?

Janos Pasztor: There are quite a few of those and the most important one seems to be related to what is referred to as the differentiation – the differentiation between the developed and developing countries. Some countries would like no formal differentiation and they would like all rules to apply to everybody, every country, with maybe a certain flexibility to reflect the capacities of different countries.

Interview with Janos Pasztor, UN Assistant Secretary-General on Climate Change. Credit: United Nations

Other countries would like to maintain the existing grouping of countries in the Convention to developed and developing countries, and then have rules that refer to these different groups. So that’s quite important because it has implications, not just on the conceptual issue of having divisions like that, but in terms of financing.

But there are other challenges – such as climate finance. Developed countries have committed to providing $100 billion dollars per year by 2020 to developing countries. The $100 billion doesn’t have to be on the table in Paris, but what does need to be on the table is a politically credible mobilization trajectory towards this $100 billion. Some progress was made in October, but there is still work to do and there are still announcements that hopefully will be made by some countries. So these are just two examples of difficult issues that still need to be resolved but there are others as well.

UN News Centre: You mentioned the last round of negotiations in Bonn. What came out of those discussions?

Janos Pasztor: What we have is a document that has grown in size. While the actual size doesn’t matter – what matters is the content – clearly the longer the text, the more time it takes to negotiate and that’s our biggest challenge. The text is some 55 pages long and it will take some time to go through the different elements. What we ended up with at the Bonn negotiation is that countries added into the original draft which was much shorter – specific things that they wanted to see in the final text and there wasn’t enough time to negotiate all that in Bonn. So we still have lots of options in there and those will still need to be negotiated both in informal discussions and during COP21.

UN News Centre: What is the significance of COP21 in light of the new 2030 Development Agenda, and how predominantly does climate change figure in it?

Janos Pasztor: The new Sustainable Development Agenda—or Agenda 2030 – is extremely important for the implementation of the climate agreement. First, we have a goal – Goal 13 – which focuses on climate change. But what the other goals are even more important. There are 12 goals [out of 17] that have very specific climate related targets on energy, on forests, on food security, on education – these are all things that will feed into successfully implementing the climate agreement.

The main challenge ahead is to negotiate the agreement.

But what is really important is that if we don’t achieve the 2 degree objective, then none of the Sustainable Development Goals can be achieved. And in order to achieve the less than 2 degree objective, we need to do all the things that are in the Sustainable Development Goals. That’s the challenge but that is the beauty: these two different processes that are negotiated through separate processes are now coming together at the level of implementation. And this is where the UN system has a very important role also, because we are there to support Member States to help them to address these issues in a coherent and integrated way.

UN News Centre: Just days ahead of COP21, what is your message to world leaders?

Janos Pasztor: World leaders have a very important role in guiding their ministers and negotiators on the broad economic implications of climate change and actions about climate change. So their role for the negotiations is very important. If they don’t give clear guidance to the negotiators then they don’t know what to agree upon. So that is why the UN Secretary-General has been much engaged with Heads of States and Governments so that they own this process and clearly guide their ministers and their negotiators.

UN News Centre: What do you want to convey to the public?

Janos Pasztor: Climate change affects us all, but our actions affect climate change – all of us. We are all responsible for what we do in our daily lives – how we vote, how we engage, how we run our companies, how we run our civil society organizations. We all need to be conscious of this, and we all need to do our part.


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Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52659

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Ban tells world why he cares &#39so deeply&#39 about climate change


25 November 2015 – Reminding the world that the sooner action is taken to tackle climate change, the greater the benefits for all, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said that for the nearly nine years, he has been at the head of the Organization, he has travelled the world to the front-lines of climate change, and spoken repeatedly with world leaders, business people and citizens about the need for an urgent global response.

“Why do I care so much about this issue?” Mr. Ban asked in an opinion piece published today in some 70 countries’ media outlets ahead of the UN climate change conference, known as COP21.

“First, like any grandfather, I want my 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,” he explained.

The UN chief recalled that Pope Francis and other faith leaders have reminded the global community that “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 the United Nations, Mr. Ban said he has 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 United Nations can we respond collectively to this quintessentially global issue,” he insisted.

While admitting that the negotiation process has been slow and cumbersome, the Secretary-General underlined that the world is 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 could bend the emissions curve down to a projected global temperature rise of approximately 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

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

He said acting soon can lead to greater 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 UN chief stated. “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 towards a low-emission, climate-resilient future.”

Meanwhile, around the world, momentum is building, he said, pointing out that 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,” he stressed, noting that the leaders of G20 nations, who met earlier this month in Antalya, Turkey, showed strong commitment to climate action.

More than 120 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,” the Secretary-General continued, giving an explanation for each point, before reiterating that the UN stands fully ready to support countries in implementing such an agreement. An agreement, which he said will also accelerate progress towards all of the Sustainable Development Goals.

“That is why I care so deeply about climate change,” he concluded. “My message to world leaders is clear: success in Paris depends on you. Now is 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.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52655

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Pope Francis calls for strong climate agreement during visit to UN office in Nairobi


26 November 2015 – Pope Francis today called on world leaders to seal a strong agreement at the upcoming UN climate change conference (COP21), stating that transforming current development models is a “political and economic obligation”, as he visited the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi, Kenya.

Speaking to an audience of thousands, which included UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner and United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON) Director-General Sahle-Work Zewde, Pope Francis placed particular emphasis on the need to adopt low-carbon energy systems and end the “throw-away culture” that contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

“In a few days, an important meeting on climate change will be held in Paris…It would be sad, and I dare say even catastrophic, were particular interests to prevail over the common good,” Pope Francis told the crowd. “In this international context, we are confronted with a choice which cannot be ignored: either to improve or to destroy the environment.”

He said COP21 represents an important stage in the process of developing a new energy system which depends on a minimal use of fossil fuels, aims at energy efficiency and makes use of energy sources with little or no carbon content.

“We are faced with a great political and economic obligation to rethink and correct the dysfunctions and distortions of the current model of development,” he stressed.

UNEP’s Emissions Gap report, released in early November, showed that the expected Paris commitments from Member States will cut up to 4 to 6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year from global emissions in 2030. This, however, is 12 gigatonnes short of the level that will keep the world on track to stay below the “safe” limit of a 2 degree Celsius temperature rise this century.

Meanwhile, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner praised Pope Francis’s moral leadership on the environment, which the Pontiff has already displayed with his encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ calling on the faithful to embrace their responsibilities to the environment. Mr. Steiner said this added global momentum to efforts to close this emissions gap and implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Addressing the world just a few days before the Paris climate conference, with the future of this planet hanging in the balance, you [Pope Francis] remind world leaders, business leaders and individual citizens that we each have not only a responsibility, but an obligation to act on what our conscience tells us to be right,” Mr. Steiner said.

“In this pivotal year, your powerful notion of the ‘globalization of indifference’ speaks to the heart of the practical and ethical challenges ahead: both to reach a climate change agreement in Paris and to deliver it within the much broader, holistic spectrum of sustainable development that must leave no one behind.”

Pope Francis also touched upon the need to create a world in which unsustainable consumption and production patterns, which contribute to pollution, ecosystem degradation and climate change through the wasteful use of resources in the production of food and other goods, are ended.

“This calls for an educational process which fosters in boys and girls, women and men, young people and adults, the adoption of a culture of care-care for oneself, care for others, care for the environment-in place of a culture of waste, a ‘throw-away culture’ where people use and discard themselves, others and the environment,” he insisted.

As a further symbol of his environmental commitment, Pope Francis planted an Olea capensis, an indigenous tree found across the continent of Africa, on the grounds of the UN headquarters before his talk.

“Planting a tree is first and foremost an invitation to continue the battle against phenomena like deforestation and desertification,” he said. “Planting a tree is also an incentive to keep trusting, hoping, and above all working in practice to reverse all those situations of injustice and deterioration which we currently experience.”

Mr. Steiner took Pope Francis on a tour of the UNEP offices, a sustainable facility powered largely by solar panels, to demonstrate renewable energy and energy efficiency in practice.

There, Mr. Steiner presented Pope Francis with an elephant created from discarded flip-flops—a product designed to draw attention to the issue of marine litter and plastic waste—as a token of his appreciation for the Pope’s commitment to the environment.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52663

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On eve of Paris climate summit, UN weather agency delivers &#39bad news&#39 for planet, cites record heat


25 November 2015 – In the last major report before world leaders meet in Paris to draft measures to counter global warming, the United Nations weather agency today delivered “bad news for the planet,” warning that 2015 is likely to be the warmest year on record, breaching the symbolic and significant milestone of 1 degree Celsius above the pre-industrial era.

The 2011-2015 five-year period has also been the warmest, with many extreme weather events, especially heatwaves, substantially exacerbated by human-induced climate change, in some cases by a factor of 10 or more, according to the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

“The state of the global climate in 2015 will make history for a number of reasons,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said, noting that this year’s climate has also been affected by El Niño, a cyclical weather pattern of devastating droughts and catastrophic floods that can affect scores of millions of people around the globe.

“Levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached new highs and in the Northern hemisphere spring 2015, the three-month global average concentration of CO2 (carbon dioxide), crossed the 400 parts per million barrier for the first time. As such, 2015 is likely to be the hottest year on record, with ocean surface temperatures at the highest level since measurements began.

“It is probable that the 1°C Celsius threshold will be crossed. This is all bad news for the planet. Greenhouse gas emissions, which are causing climate change, can be controlled. We have the knowledge and the tools to act. We have a choice. Future generations will not,” he stressed.

This is the huge task facing world leaders when they gather in Paris on 30 November for a two-week summit that will seek to keep the global average temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

In its final report before the summit, widely known as COP21, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) last week highlighted multiple steps to immediately scale up reductions in human-caused greenhouse gas, from switching from emission-heavy fossil fuels to renewable energy, to better management of transportation and better use of land.

This year’s El Niño, which is still gaining in strength and is on record to be among the strongest ever, is affecting weather patterns in many parts of the world and fuelled an exceptionally warm October, with its impact expected to continue into 2016.

A preliminary estimate based on data from January to October shows that the global average surface temperature for 2015 was around 0.73 °C above the 1961-1990 average of 14°C and approximately 1°C above the pre-industrial 1880-1899 period, WMO reported, noting that South America and Asia are having their hottest year on record, and Africa and Europe their second hottest.

The agency underscored the human element in global warming. It noted that of 79 studies published by Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society between 2011 and 2014, more than half found that anthropogenic climate change contributed to extreme events – the most consistent influence being on extreme heat – with some studies finding that the probability of the observed event has increased by 10 times or more.

Examples include the record high seasonal and annual temperatures in the United States in 2012 and in Australia in 2013, hot summers in eastern Asia and Western Europe in 2013, heatwaves in spring and autumn 2014 in Australia, record annual warmth in Europe in 2014, and the Argentine heatwave of December 2013, WMO said.

Longer-term events, which have not yet been the subject of formal attribution studies, are consistent with projections of near- and long-term climate change. These include increased incidence of multi-year drought in the subtropics, as manifested in the 2011-15 period in the southern United States, parts of southern Australia and southern Africa.

There have also been events, such as the unusually prolonged, intense and hot dry seasons in the Amazon basin of Brazil in both 2014 and 2015 which, while they cannot yet be stated with confidence to be part of a long-term trend, are of considerable concern in the context of potential “tipping points” in the climate system.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52652

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New UN guidelines seek to make genetic diversity part of climate change adaptation


25 November 2015 – With the United Nations climate change conference in Paris just days away, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has issued new voluntary guidelines to assist countries in better managing and sustainably using genetic resources while addressing climate change.

“Genetic resources for food and agriculture will have to contribute greatly to our efforts to cope with climate change,” said Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General for Natural Resources, adding that: “We need to act now to reduce the risk that the scale and speed of climate change will surpass our ability to … use these resources in the field.”

Encompassing the diversity of plants, animals and other life forms, genetic resources play a critical role in achieving food security and nutrition objectives as well as addressing climate change, which themselves are confronting.

Crops, for example, with certain staples providing 60 per cent of all human dietary energy, may by 25 per cent lower in 2050 than today.

Aiming to assist countries in conserving genetic resources as a pivotal reservoir, the guidelines also advise on agriculture adaptation and building resilience into food production systems, said Ms. Semedo.

With no commonly adopted approach available on integrating agricultural biodiversity into strategic planning for climate change adaptation, the guidelines further fill this gap by helping countries develop their National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) in genetic resources dimensions.

Such efforts, among others, include maintaining on-site farms diversity and building regional and global gene banks.

“We need to secure and mobilize genetic resources now to have options for the future … and we need to plan,” said Irene Hoffmann, Secretary of FAO’s Intergovernmental Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, who supervised the guidelines’ development.

International cooperation and exchange, she stressed, is of great importance as all countries are inter-dependent on genetic diversity.

However, funding is required to support countries in this process, Ms. Hoffmann stressed.

Genetic resources for food and agriculture contain a variety of plants, animals, forests, aquatic resources, micro-organisms and invertebrates that play a role in food and agricultural production.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52653

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