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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Presses for Progress in Cancun and Beyond

The United Nations Opening remarks at a December 7 press briefing at the COP16 climate conference in Cancun by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

When I became Secretary-General, I made climate change one of my top priorities. The reason is simple.

Climate change affects everything the UN does – peace and security, development, and human rights.

We cannot sustain gains toward our Millennium Development Goals… or preserve the ecosystems that sustain us … we cannot ensure safety and stability for the poor and vulnerable … without progress on climate change.

But let us not think just of the risks, or how we are gambling with our future. Climate change also presents compelling opportunities.

For cleaner air, better public health, short-term economic recovery and long-term growth … new jobs in the green industries that will power the global economy.

Let us not forget: Nature isn’t waiting while we negotiate.

Greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. They are at unprecedented levels. Climate impacts are increasing.

In just four decades, there will be nearly nine billion people on our planet.

How will we meet the needs of nine billion people while at the same time reducing emissions by 50 per cent or more, as scientists tell us we must?

We need to fundamentally transform the global economy — based on low-carbon, clean energy resources.

We need to invest trillions of dollars in better energy infrastructure, starting today.

The longer we delay, the more we will lose – economically, environmentally, and in human lives.

There is no single magic solution to climate change. We need to make progress wherever we can, and keep moving forward in the right direction.

I do not expect governments to reach an all-encompassing global agreement here in Cancun.

But we need to see progress on all fronts of the negotiations.

Some important decisions are ripe for adoption: on protecting forests, which account for 17 per cent of global emissions, on climate adaptation, technology, and some elements of finance.

We also need to see progress on the challenging issues of mitigation, transparency and accountability, and additional clarity on the future of the Kyoto Protocol.

Let me say a word on climate change financing. First on fast-start finance.

In Copenhagen, developed nations made political commitments to provide developing countries with $30 billion dollars for the period from 2010 to 2012 for adaptation and mitigation.

So far, pledges have been encouraging, and are approaching the target of 30 billion dollars.

However, we need to make progress on the actual delivery of funds, along with a transparent and robust accountability system.

We can also advance the discussion on long-term financing. In Copenhagen developed countries agreed to pursue $100 billion annually by 2020.

In order to advance this agenda, I convened a very distinguished group of eminent personalities to develop the thinking further. The group, led by Prime Ministers Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and Stoltenberg of Norway – who are here with us in Cancun — concluded that $100 billion annually will be challenging but feasible, and presented a range of options for how it could be achieved.

The range of options have been introduced to the Parties here in Cancun and it is now up to them to build on these in the negotiations.

Finally, in addition to progress in the negotiations, we also need to see increased action on the ground by all countries.

At the end of the day, we need results … results that curb global greenhouse gas emissions … and that strengthen the ability of communities to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

This is not a sprint, but a marathon.

It is important to keep taking determined steps forward.

People around the world are watching. They need their governments to act in their best long-term interests.

I urge governments to be flexible, and to negotiate in a spirit of compromise and common sense, for the good of all peoples.

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