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Recent unusual weather worldwide calls for urgent preventive action, UN official warns

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29 December 2015 – Extreme tornadoes in the United States over Christmas, abnormal snowfalls in Mexico, and heavy flooding in South America and the United Kingdom show that governments must take more preventive action to reduce human and economic losses from weather-related disasters, a senior United Nations official warned today.

“Prevention measures including upgrading early warning systems to deal with the new climate variability, revising building codes to ensure more resilience of critical infrastructure such as schools, hospital and roads, and more investment in flood defences are critical to protect more people against disaster impacts,” said Margareta Wahlström, head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

“We have no time to lose as weather-related disasters continue to increase, affecting millions of people.”

Over the weekend, tornadoes and storms killed more than 20 people in the US states of New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Illinois, and flattened hundreds of buildings and houses.

“More people are at risk due to increased urbanization,” Ms. Wahlström said. “Reducing spatial density of single family housing and increasing the resilience of houses against heavier wind load can reduce tornado impacts.”

Meanwhile, the intense floods in South America are considered the worst in the past 10 years, forcing more than 170,000 people to evacuate in Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.

“The abnormal flooding is consistent with the prediction made by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) last November. We cannot ignore science. Their findings need to be better included in long-term policies,” Ms. Wahlström added.

Last month, WMO warned that the majority of international climate outlook models indicated that the 2015-16 El Niño weather phenomenon was set to strengthen before the end of the year, causing more flooding and more droughts, setting it among the three strongest since 1950.

The phenomenon, characterized by a warming of the Pacific Ocean, is also triggering a rise in drought in different parts of the Americas, sparking the worst droughts in decades in Central America and Haiti, and that they will continue into 2016.

In Mexico, snowfall over the weekend blanketed 32 towns in the state of Chihuahua, with some places hit by accumulations of 30 centimetres and temperatures of -18 degrees Celsius.

Further afield, December has seen communities in Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Yorkshire in the UK swamped by rising waters with damages that could exceed £1.5 billion according to financial analysts.

“The repetitive floods in the UK and unusual snowstorms in Mexico are alerting the world about how difficult it is to predict global warming impacts and climate change,” Ms. Wahlström said.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52915

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People of African descent must be fully included in climate change decisions, UN experts urge

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29 December 2015 – People of African descent, often the poorest and most marginalized in society, are among those set to be most adversely affected by climate change, yet they barely figured in the recent Paris climate summit, a United Nations expert group warned today, calling for their full inclusion.

“Implementation of the Paris climate change agreement and future climate talks should focus on the needs and views of those most at risk, including people of African descent, and not be based on market forces,” the Chairperson of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, Mireille Fanon Mendes-France, said in a statement in Geneva.

Despite advances in tackling racism and racial discrimination, both direct and indirect, people of African descent are often among the poorest and most marginalized groups in society, often living in communities disproportionately affected for decades by environmental degradation such as air pollution and toxic waste.

“They are now bearing, and are set to further bear, a disproportionately high burden of the consequences of climate change,” Ms. Mendes-France added.

“Given this, discussions on climate change must be framed in the light of environmental inequalities and take into account people of African descent and Africans living in all regions of the world, many of whom remain trapped in structural and institutional invisibility.”

The International Decade for People of African Descent, which runs from 2015 to 2024, aims to highlight the contribution of people of African descent to societies, as well as strengthen national, regional and international cooperation in relation to the full enjoyment of economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights by people of African descent, yet these rights that are set to be affected to a greater or lesser degree by climate change, she noted.

“World leaders can make the Paris agreement process truly historic by ensuring that the participation of marginalized communities, including people of African descent, in efforts to deal with climate change is no longer overlooked or sidelined, but made central to the debate about the future of our common planet,” she concluded.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52916

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World Tsunami Awareness Day welcome boost for disaster risk reduction – UN official

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23 December 2015 – The head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction today welcomed the resolution adopted by the General Assembly recognizing 5 November as World Tsunami Awareness Day.

“Many disasters would not happen and many lives and livelihoods would be saved if there was greater public awareness of the threats posed by natural hazards such as tsunamis,” Margareta Wahlström, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, said in a statement, welcoming the designation of the day as a “welcome step.”

“It will help to focus attention on measures which can be taken to reduce risks from both man-made and natural hazards and to ensure that more people live and work in places which are free from the threat not just of tsunamis but other sudden onset hazards such as earthquakes, floods and storms.”

The proposal was first suggested by the Japanese Government after the Third UN Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai in March this year.

Japan has suffered heavy losses as a result of tsunamis, most recently the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 11 March 2011, which claimed over 15,000 lives, disrupted the nuclear power industry and left many thousands homeless.

“It should be remembered that the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami which claimed some 230,000 lives from countries across the world galvanised political commitment to reducing disaster risk and disaster losses,” Ms. Wahlström added.

“The memory of that event helped to ensure the adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction this year which sets targets for the first time on reducing mortality, the numbers of people affected, economic losses and damage to critical infrastructure from disasters.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52895

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Ban extends condolences to people, Government of China in wake of devastating landslide

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22 December 2015 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today extended his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims of the devastating landslide in Shenzhen and expressed his solidarity with the people and Government of China.

“The Secretary-General fervently hopes more survivors will be found during the ongoing rescue efforts,” said a statement issued by his spokesperson in New York.

According to press reports, dozens of people remain missing after a landslide buried 33 buildings in an industrial park in Shenzhen City, south China’s Guangdong Province on Sunday.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52890

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UN agencies collaborate to help Sudan mitigate climate change while combatting hunger

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21 December 2015 – Two United Nations entities today announced a cooperation agreement to help Sudan manage its natural resources in a way that is compatible with combatting hunger and improving livelihoods while at the same time mitigating the effects of climate change.

The a letter of agreement signed by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) formalizes their collaboration on activities supporting the Government in assisting vulnerable communities in Sudan.

“UNEP is confident that this agreement with WFP will assist us to mainstream improved environmental management with humanitarian and early recovery activities through the wide-spread, professional presence of WFP in Sudan, ultimately helping recipient communities build resilience to climate change,” UNEP Representative Bradley Smith said of the agreement, signed earlier this month.

UNEP and its partners are promoting innovative natural resource management mechanisms that will contribute to improved livelihoods and climate resilience, while reducing conflict over precious natural resources such as water, forests and rangeland.

“This agreement shows our commitment to the outcomes of the United Nations climate change conference that has just concluded in Paris,” WFP’s Sudan Country Director Adnan Khan said.

“We are very pleased to have this opportunity to work with UNEP in assisting the Government of Sudan to address environmental issues and the challenges of climate change that could damage efforts to achieve Zero Hunger, especially where these involve smallholder farmers and other vulnerable groups that we assist through our programmes,” Mr. Khan added.

WFP supports vulnerable groups in Sudan in building their resilience to climate-related shocks and disasters while restoring livelihoods among internally displaced people, refugees and vulnerable communities.

The necessity of climate analysis and disaster-risk reduction is rapidly becoming apparent in Sudan, as fears grow that delayed and insufficient rainfall caused by this year’s El Niño weather pattern, which brings devastating droughts or catastrophic floods to different areas of the globe, has hurt crop development in key production areas of Sudan and increased the risk of below-average yields.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52873

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‘At time of great division,’ unity on Paris climate accord must be built upon – UN Assembly President

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15 December 2015 – The President of the 193-member United Nations General Assembly today vowed to begin the hard work of carrying out the Paris Agreement on climate change, reminding the world that at a time of great division, the unity, leadership and collective responsibility demonstrated in the French capital should not be forgotten.

“And we must encourage climate actors to embrace opportunities for action, partnership and investment that drive implementation of the broader poverty eradication and sustainable development agenda,” said said Mogens Lykketoft, as he briefed Member States on the conference, widely known as COP21.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also spoke to the Assembly this morning on a session on the outcome of the climate change summit, which ended in Paris over the weekend, as well as on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The UN chief called the Paris Agreement a triumph for people, the planet, and for multilateralism, because for the first time every country has pledged to curb their emissions, strengthen resilience and act internationally and domestically to address climate change.

Mr. Ban said that as a first step in implementing the Paris Agreement, he will convene a high-level signing ceremony in New York on 22 April of next year.

Assembly President Lykketoft noted that “at a time of great division in our world often linked to matters of resources, poverty, exclusion and climate stresses; this unity, leadership and collective responsibility should not be forgotten.”

“And a key part of this includes maximizing synergies between action on climate change and action on sustainable development goals,” he said.

Mr. Lykketoft outlined the concrete steps he will be taking to make sure that the Paris Agreement is implemented at a High Level Thematic Debate he will host in April, which will address this and other issues crucial to realizing the SDGs.

He said the Member States will take this is an opportunity to look at the inter-connections between the broader Paris agreement and overall SDG implementation, and to share thinking on how to effectively integrate climate action into sustainable development strategies.

Second, “we will look at how best to catalyze some of the means of implementing the SDGs in terms of technology, information and communication and in terms of financing in all its aspects, but in particular for sustainable, resilient and climate smart infrastructure.”

And third, he said, “we will examine how best to foster accountable and transparent multi-stakeholder partnerships to support the 2030 Agenda.”

“I hope that it will help us to build on the great outcome in Paris and to drive early action to end poverty, address climate change and achieve sustainable development,” he said.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52823

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COP21: UN chief hails new climate change agreement as ‘monumental triumph’

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12 December 2015 – Following the adoption of the new Paris Agreement on climate change, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said government representatives made history today.

“The Paris Agreement is a monumental triumph for people and our planet,” said Mr. Ban in a tweet, immediately following its adoption. “It sets the stage for progress in ending poverty, strengthening peace and ensuring a life of dignity and opportunity for all.”

Gaveling the Agreement with a green hammer, the French Foreign Minister and President of COP21, Laurent Fabius, announced the historic news – a moment greeted with loud applause and cheers, as the room stood up. Many delegates hugged, while others had tears in their eyes.

For the first time today, 195 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – pledged to curb emissions, strengthen resilience and joined to take common climate action. This followed two weeks of tireless negotiations at the United Nations climate change conference (COP21).

The Paris Agreement and the outcomes of COP21 cover all the crucial areas identified as essential for a landmark conclusion: mitigation – reducing emissions fast enough to achieve the temperature goal; a transparency system and global stock-take – accounting for climate action; adaptation – strengthening ability of countries to deal with climate impacts; loss and damage – strengthening ability to recover from climate impacts; and support – including finance, for nations to build clean, resilient futures.

“In the face of an unprecedented challenge, you have demonstrated unprecedented leadership,” the UN chief said taking the COP21 stage just minutes later. “You have worked collaboratively to achieve something that no one nation could achieve alone. This is a resounding success for multilateralism.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon follows the proceedings of the COP21 meeting from his office. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Left to right: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UNFCCC’s Christiana Figueres, Frenc Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and President François Hollande of France celebrate after the historic adoption of Paris Agreement on climate change. UN Photo/ Mark Garten

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) give remarks at the closing ceremony of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21). UN Photo/ Mark Garten

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (second left), discusses draft text with his advisors before meeting with the president of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, France (COP21). UN Photo/ Mark Garten

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (centre right) meets with President François Hollande (centre left) of France and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (right) and President of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21) prior to “Comité de Paris”: Presentation of Draft Outcome Document at the COP21. UN Photo/ Mark Garten

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) with President François Hollande (centre) of France and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius Laurent Fabius (right) and President of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21) en route to the plenary hall for “Comité de Paris”: Presentation of Draft Outcome Document at the COP21. UN Photo/ Mark Garten

A shot from the “Comité de Paris”: Presentation of Draft Outcome Document at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21). UN Photo/ Mark Garten


Recalling that he made climate change one of the defining priorities of his tenure as Secretary-General, Mr. Ban said that most of all, he has listened to people – the young, the poor and the vulnerable, including indigenous peoples, from every corner of the globe.

“They seek protection from the perils of a warming planet, and the opportunity to live in a safer, more bountiful world,” he underlined. “They have demanded that world leaders act to safeguard their well-being and that of generations to come.”

Turning to the agreement itself, the Secretary-General said negotiators reached “solid results on all key points,” with an agreement that demonstrates solidarity and “is ambitious, flexible, credible and durable.”

“All countries have agreed to hold global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius. And recognizing the risk of grave consequences, you have further agreed to pursue efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5 degrees,” he announced.

In addition, a review mechanism has been established whereby every five years, beginning in 2018, Parties will regularly review what is needed in line with science.

“Governments have agreed to binding, robust, transparent rules of the road to ensure that all countries do what they have agreed across a range of issues,” Mr. Ban added.

Meanwhile, highlighting the role of the private sector, the UN chief said business leaders came to Paris in unprecedented numbers and that “powerful” climate solutions are already available while many more are to come.

“With these elements in place, markets now have the clear signal they need to unleash the full force of human ingenuity and scale up investments that will generate low-emissions, resilient growth,” he said, adding that “what was once unthinkable has now become unstoppable.”

“When historians look back on this day, they will say that global cooperation to secure a future safe from climate change took a dramatic new turn here in Paris,” Mr. Ban stated. “Today, we can look into the eyes of our children and grandchildren, and we can finally say, tell them that we have joined hands to bequeath a more habitable world to them and to future generations.”

Ending his remarks, the UN chief said that all Parties should be proud of the Paris Agreement and that “the work starts tomorrow.”

“For today, congratulations again on a job well done,” he concluded. “Let us work together, with renewed commitment, to make this a better world.”

Addressing the hundreds of delegates, Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, said “we did it in Paris.”

“We have made history together. It is an agreement of conviction. It is an agreement of solidarity with the most vulnerable. It is an agreement of long-term vision, for we have to turn this agreement into an engine of safe growth,” she exclaimed.

Several other top UN officials joined the Secretary-General in welcoming the new Agreement. This included the President of the UN General Assembly, Mr. Mogens Lykketoft.

“Today’s agreement signals nothing less than a renaissance for humankind as we collectively embrace the global challenge of climate change and endeavor to transition to a more sustainable way of living that respects the needs of people and our planet,” Mr. Lykketoft said in a statement.

Echoing this message, the President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Oh Joon, said the world has reached a key milestone in collective action for sustainable development.

“Bold action against climate change will contribute to poverty reduction. The United Nations Economic and Social Council will take part in follow-up efforts,” he added.

Earlier today, at a meeting of the Committee of Paris [Comité de Paris] – the body which is overseeing the negotiations at COP21 – the UN chief spoke alongside the President of France, François Hollande as well Minister Fabius.

“The end is in sight. Let us now finish the job. The whole world is watching. Billions of people are relying on your wisdom,” the Secretary-General had told delegates.

In an emotional address during which he held back tears, Laurent Fabius said the agreement “will serve meaningful causes, food safety and security, public health, the fight against poverty and for essential rights, and therefore peace.”

“People worldwide, our citizens, our children, wouldn’t understand if we didn’t adopt it and wouldn’t forgive us,” he insisted.

“It is rare to be given the opportunity to change the world,” said President François Hollande, wrapping up the meeting. “You have the opportunity to do that.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52802

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Ban hails Paris climate accord as ‘health insurance policy for the planet’

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14 December 2015 – Calling the Paris Agreement on climate change “a health insurance policy for the planet,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today he never lost faith over his nine years in office that the international community could rise to the challenge and take steps to curb emission and boost climate-resilient growth.

“The countries of the world have made a historic choice,” he told a news briefing at UN Headquarters in New York on his return from attending the so-called COP21 conference in Paris, as he called on Governments to put their pledges into action.

“They have unanimously decided to work as one to rise to the defining challenge of our times. The Paris Agreement is a victory for people, for the common good, and for multilateralism.

“It is a health insurance policy for the planet. It is the most significant action in years to uphold our Charter mandate to ‘save succeeding generations.’ For the first time, every country in the world has pledged to curb emissions, strengthen resilience and act internationally and domestically to address climate change.”

The 195 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on Saturday adopted the Paris Agreement after two weeks of intensive negotiations at the summit.

The accord covers all crucial areas identified as essential for a landmark conclusion: mitigation – reducing emissions fast enough to achieve the temperature goal; a transparency system and global stock-take – accounting for climate action; adaptation – strengthening ability of countries to deal with climate impacts; loss and damage – strengthening ability to recover from climate impacts; and support – including finance, for nations to build clean, resilient futures.

Mr. Ban said it embodies a successful new approach to global cooperation on climate change, with countries acknowledging that their national interest is best served by acting for the common good by transforming the global economy to low-emission, climate-resilient growth.

“It marks a decisive turning point in the global quest for a safer, more sustainable and prosperous future,” he stressed. “It will save lives, improve human well-being and promote more peaceful, stable societies.”

He highlighted the agreement as one of his top priorities since the day he became UN Secretary-General. “For nine years, I have spoken repeatedly with nearly every world leader about how the growing human imprint on the planet threatens our lives, our economies, our security and our survival. I have mobilized business and engaged civil society.

“I have never lost faith that the international community could rise to the climate challenge. Now I count on Governments, and all sectors of society, to turn these commitments into urgent, decisive action,” he concluded.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52812

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COP21: a ‘green’ UN climate change conference, from electric cars to the power of human energy

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14 December 2015 – With countries reaching a new agreement at the United Nations climate change conference (COP21), the global meeting has been qualified as a “monumental triumph” by top UN officials. While many continued to hail the outcome document as the walls of COP21 were torn down on Sunday, the UN News Centre looked back on other aspects that contributed “positive energy” to the two-week event.

Highlighting what made COP21 “green” was Fanina Kodre-Alexander from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), who manages communications on climate change, disasters and conflicts. She said UNEP worked with the organizers – the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Government of France – to ensure sustainability throughout the Paris-Le Bourget site located north-east of the capital.

“We work under our ‘Eat, Think, Save’ campaign in collaboration with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and we believe that food waste is the third largest emitter after a couple of countries,” Ms. Koder-Alexander noted.

To reduce waste, all the food provided at UNEP events, including those during COP21, is sourced from rescued food, resources that would otherwise have been destroyed. Ms. Kodre-Alexander highlighted that it’s always provided in a “very appetizing and lovely way.”

Another exciting feature at COP21 related to food, which attracted a lot of attention, was the boulangers brought on premise to avoid trucking kilos of fresh baguettes ever day.

They welcomed the UN News Centre into their lab, which is visible to all conference-goers through a thin see-through plastic tarp.

Every day, COP21 bakers made 10,000 pieces of bread on the premises to avoid having to truck them in. Audio slide show by Stephanie Coutrix

To go with the bread, of course there’s café.

“We’re very happy to see they’re using recyclable cups,” said Ms. Kodre-Alexander. “The method which they’ve employed is that people are returning them to get a credit. It’s quite successful and you don’t see them left around and dropped in the garbage.”

Scenes from COP21. Photo: Stephanie Coutrix

In addition, welcome packs handed out to all participants included water bottles to limit the number of plastic ones purchased. Water stations to fill these were abundantly found around every corner, similarly to the many recycling bins, clearly labeled to support the separation of paper, plastics and compostable organic waste.

“UNEP has also tried to be as paperless as possible,” added Ms. Kodre-Alexander. “There are certain documents that need to be printed and distributed but we believe in either providing links to our website or USB keys when available.”

On Saturday, the printed final draft of the agreement was handed out to delegates to review before they reconvened hours later for its adoption. This was a rare time paper was seen throughout the venue, as negotiators met in all free spaces including the cafeteria.

Scenes from COP21. Photo: Stephanie Coutrix

Meanwhile, several eco-friendly options were available to get to and from the site. In addition to free public buses, 300 electric cars were provided by Renault-Nissan to anyone seeking a ride. Reservations could be made online just hours in advance, or in person with a little extra wait time. Two hundred of the drivers were professional chauffeurs, while the rest volunteered to help limit COP21’s carbon footprint. According to Renault-Nissan, a total of 16.32 tons of carbon dioxide were diverted during the two weeks thanks to the initiative.

Scenes from COP21. Photo: Stephanie Coutrix

While the cars recharged during the day, so did thousands of cell phones at power stations provided by a group called “Solar Sound Systems.” Unlike a typical plug, participants had to pedal to activate the charging. Similarly, this applied to making one’s own juice and contributing to power a DJ booth located in the Generation Climat hall, a space open to the public and dedicated to the exchange of idea, mainly between younger climate advocates.

Scenes from COP21. Photo: Stephanie Coutrix

Scenes from COP21. Photo: Stephanie Coutrix

Scenes from COP21. Photo: Stephanie Coutrix


Despite all these “green” options, the UN News Centre asked Ms. Kodre-Alexander whether there was anything more she had wished to see at the conference.

“Personally for me it’s always the heating/air conditioning issue,” she answered. “I always find that if you’re overheating the venues and then air conditioning others, you’re consuming a lot of resources that would normally be saved.”

Perhaps this is an additional aspect to consider next year, when a new COP convenes next November in Marrakesh, Morocco.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52815

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COP21: UN chief hails new climate change agreement as &#39monumental triumph&#39

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12 December 2015 – Following the adoption of the new Paris Agreement on climate change, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said government representatives made history today.

“The Paris Agreement is a monumental triumph for people and our planet,” said Mr. Ban in a tweet, immediately following its adoption. “It sets the stage for progress in ending poverty, strengthening peace and ensuring a life of dignity and opportunity for all.”

Gaveling the Agreement with a green hammer, the French Foreign Minister and President of COP21, Laurent Fabius, announced the historic news – a moment greeted with loud applause and cheers, as the room stood up. Many delegates hugged, while others had tears in their eyes.

For the first time today, 195 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – pledged to curb emissions, strengthen resilience and joined to take common climate action. This followed two weeks of tireless negotiations at the United Nations climate change conference (COP21).

The Paris Agreement and the outcomes of COP21 cover all the crucial areas identified as essential for a landmark conclusion: mitigation – reducing emissions fast enough to achieve the temperature goal; a transparency system and global stock-take – accounting for climate action; adaptation – strengthening ability of countries to deal with climate impacts; loss and damage – strengthening ability to recover from climate impacts; and support – including finance, for nations to build clean, resilient futures.

“In the face of an unprecedented challenge, you have demonstrated unprecedented leadership,” the UN chief said taking the COP21 stage just minutes later. “You have worked collaboratively to achieve something that no one nation could achieve alone. This is a resounding success for multilateralism.”

Recalling that he made climate change one of the defining priorities of his tenure as Secretary-General, Mr. Ban said that most of all, he has listened to people – the young, the poor and the vulnerable, including indigenous peoples, from every corner of the globe.

“They seek protection from the perils of a warming planet, and the opportunity to live in a safer, more bountiful world,” he underlined. “They have demanded that world leaders act to safeguard their well-being and that of generations to come.”

Turning to the agreement itself, the Secretary-General said negotiators reached “solid results on all key points,” with an agreement that demonstrates solidarity and “is ambitious, flexible, credible and durable.”

“All countries have agreed to hold global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius. And recognizing the risk of grave consequences, you have further agreed to pursue efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5 degrees,” he announced.

In addition, a review mechanism has been established whereby every five years, beginning in 2018, Parties will regularly review what is needed in line with science.

“Governments have agreed to binding, robust, transparent rules of the road to ensure that all countries do what they have agreed across a range of issues,” Mr. Ban added.

Meanwhile, highlighting the role of the private sector, the UN chief said business leaders came to Paris in unprecedented numbers and that “powerful” climate solutions are already available while many more are to come.

“With these elements in place, markets now have the clear signal they need to unleash the full force of human ingenuity and scale up investments that will generate low-emissions, resilient growth,” he said, adding that “what was once unthinkable has now become unstoppable.”

“When historians look back on this day, they will say that global cooperation to secure a future safe from climate change took a dramatic new turn here in Paris,” Mr. Ban stated. “Today, we can look into the eyes of our children and grandchildren, and we can finally say, tell them that we have joined hands to bequeath a more habitable world to them and to future generations.”

Ending his remarks, the UN chief said that all Parties should be proud of the Paris Agreement and that “the work starts tomorrow.”

“For today, congratulations again on a job well done,” he concluded. “Let us work together, with renewed commitment, to make this a better world.”

Addressing the hundreds of delegates, Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, said “we did it in Paris.”

“We have made history together. It is an agreement of conviction. It is an agreement of solidarity with the most vulnerable. It is an agreement of long-term vision, for we have to turn this agreement into an engine of safe growth,” she exclaimed.

Several other top UN officials joined the Secretary-General in welcoming the new Agreement. This included the President of the UN General Assembly, Mr. Mogens Lykketoft.

“Today’s agreement signals nothing less than a renaissance for humankind as we collectively embrace the global challenge of climate change and endeavor to transition to a more sustainable way of living that respects the needs of people and our planet,” Mr. Lykketoft said in a statement.

Echoing this message, the President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Oh Joon, said the world has reached a key milestone in collective action for sustainable development.

“Bold action against climate change will contribute to poverty reduction. The United Nations Economic and Social Council will take part in follow-up efforts,” he added.

Earlier today, at a meeting of the Committee of Paris [Comité de Paris] – the body which is overseeing the negotiations at COP21 – the UN chief spoke alongside the President of France, François Hollande as well Minister Fabius.

“The end is in sight. Let us now finish the job. The whole world is watching. Billions of people are relying on your wisdom,” the Secretary-General had told delegates.

In an emotional address during which he held back tears, Laurent Fabius said the agreement “will serve meaningful causes, food safety and security, public health, the fight against poverty and for essential rights, and therefore peace.”

“People worldwide, our citizens, our children, wouldn’t understand if we didn’t adopt it and wouldn’t forgive us,” he insisted.

“It is rare to be given the opportunity to change the world,” said President François Hollande, wrapping up the meeting. “You have the opportunity to do that.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52802

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COP21: with climate change agreement in sight, UN chief tells Governments to &#39finish the job&#39

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12 December 2015 – As the United Nations climate change conference (COP21) reaches its final hours, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told delegates today that the world has been presented a “historic” document which promises to set it on a new path to a low-emissions, climate-resilient future.

“I would like to take this opportunity to commend the commitment, engagement and leadership of all the Heads of State, Government ministers and negotiators who have brought us so far in this very difficult negotiation,” Mr. Ban said as all COP21 stakeholders prepared to receive the final draft outcome, the version which will be proposed for adoption.

For the new universal climate change agreement to come into effect, the 196 Parties to the United Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will need to adopt the outcome document.

At this morning’s plenary meeting of the Committee of Paris [Comité de Paris]—the body which is overseeing the negotiations at COP21—the UN chief spoke alongside the President of France, François Hollande and the President of COP21 and French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius.

“The end is in sight. Let us now finish the job. The whole world is watching. Billions of people are relying on your wisdom,” the Secretary-General declared.

At the opening session of the conference on the last day of November, the UN chief had told 150 world leaders—an unprecedented number to have shown up for such an occasion—that “a political moment like this may not come again.” Today, he said that leaders have listened.

“They want a flexible, robust, meaningful, universal agreement that will help us rise as one to the climate challenge. The issues are many and complex. But we must not let the quest for perfection become the enemy of the public good,” he warned.

“The solutions to climate change are on the table. They are ours for the taking. Let us have the courage to grasp them,” he said ending his remarks, adding that he looks forward to joining delegates later today to celebrate the new agreement.

Opening the floor in an emotional address during which he held back tears, Foreign Minister Fabius said if the world doesn’t adopt the agreement, it is the “credibility of multilateralism” that would be in play.

“The agreement will serve meaningful causes, food safety and security, public health, the fight against poverty and for essential rights, and therefore peace,” he insisted. “People worldwide, our citizens, our children, wouldn’t understand if we didn’t adopt it and wouldn’t forgive us.”

He announced that the document presented today as the final draft is “differentiated, just, dynamic, balanced and legally binding.” It calls for global temperature rise to be limited to “well below 2 degrees Celsius,” and “endeavored to reach 1.5 degrees.” It also provides for a transparency framework, monitoring progress every five years.

“It is rare to be given the opportunity to change the world,” said President François Hollande, wrapping up the meeting. “You have the opportunity to do that.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52802

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COP21: encouraged by climate talks, Ban urges negotiators to ‘make final decisions for humanity’

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11 December 2015 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said that he is encouraged by progress of the talks at the UN climate change conference (COP21) in Paris, where the negotiations under way are perhaps the most significant and complex ever attempted.

“I’d like to take this moment to highlight, commend and appreciate the strong commitment and engagement of ministers, negotiators and all the staff who are engaged in this very difficult negotiation,” Mr. Ban told reporters at a press conference, alongside French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius, at the Paris-Le Bourget site.

For almost two weeks, government representatives have been working to reach a new universal climate change agreement to limit global temperature rise to less than two degrees Celsius.

“I have been attending many difficult multilateral negotiations, but by any standard, by far, this negotiation […] is the most important for humanity,” he continued. “Very limited hours remain.”

The UN chief said there are still several outstanding issues, such as differentiation, the level of ambition and climate financing, but that thanks to many years of negotiations the parties already have “very good solutions.”

“This morning we have a much cleaner, streamlined text,” Mr. Ban explained. “This is a good basis for further negotiations. Many brackets have been dropped and only a few brackets remain.”

Reminding that even though as Secretary-General of the UN he is not engaged in negotiations, he said he is urging negotiators to make their decisions based on a global vision.

“This is not a moment of talking about national perspective. Good global solutions will help good local solutions,” he stressed, appealing to all countries to “make final decisions for humanity.”

Right before the press conference, Mr. Ban and Minister Fabius, who is also President of COP21, met to discuss the latest developments and to prepare for the adoption of the agreement, now expected tomorrow.

“We’ve worked a lot these past days,” said Mr. Fabius at the press conference. “This morning we finished our collective work at 6am, and now I’ll be holding consultations with all the groups.”

“Let me simply tell you that we are almost there, that I’m optimistic, that the preparations towards this ambitious agreement have been good, and that following these consultations, tomorrow morning at 9 I will be able to present a text to all parties, which I’m sure will be approved and will be a big step forwards,” the French Minister added.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52792

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