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Welcome to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali
yvo de boer Yvo de Boer
UNFCCC Executive Secretary

"I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Indonesian government for its generous invitation to host the thirteenth United Nations Climate Change Conference on the island of Bali. I also extend a warm welcome to the international community who will join us at this major event.

Bali, the “island of the Gods,” is a prime example of the beauty of our natural environment. At the same time, Indonesia has first-hand experience of the extreme weather events caused by climate change. Bali is therefore a poignant setting for the forthcoming crucial international negotiations on the way forward to save our planet from the devastating effects of global warming.

The Bali conference will be the culmination of a momentous twelve months in the climate debate and needs a breakthrough in the form of a roadmap for a future climate change deal. Early in the year, scientific evidence of global warming, as set out in the fourth assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), put the reality of human-induced global warming beyond any doubt. What we are facing is not only an environmental problem, but has much wider implications: For economic growth, water and food security, and for people's survival - especially those living in the poorest communities in developing countries. The recent joint award of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize to the IPCC for its work in disseminating knowledge on climate change further underlines the implications for overall peace and security."

A series of high-profile political events during the year have kept climate change high on the international agenda. However, we urgently need to take increased action, given climate change projections and the corresponding global adaptation needs. Prompt and aggressive mitigation will drive down the costs involved in adaptation. In the context of climate change, projections of economic growth and increases in energy demand over the next 20 years, especially in developing countries, point to the urgent need to green these trends.

At the thirteenth Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC and the third Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol in Bali, the focus needs to be on reaching international agreement on concrete steps to be taken in view of a framework to follow the end of the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period in 2012.

The spirit of Bali lies in the appreciation of its people for “Ibu Pertiwi” (mother earth) and also in the principle of collectivity. In this spirit, we must take a collective step forward in establishing a roadmap for a post-2012 agreement."

Yvo de Boer, UNFCCC Executive Secretary

What should be the global climate change response?

Recent scientific reports have added urgency to the need for a more comprehensive international climate agreement post-2012. According to the most stringent scenario outlined by the IPCC, the global average surface temperature can still be limited to an increase of 2 degrees C above the pre-industrial level. Staying within this limit means a reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions of at least 50% below the 1990 level by 2050.

We therefore need an appropriate political response in line with what science is telling us is necessary. This should respect the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities - the need for much deeper emission reductions by industrialized countries - which must continue to take the lead in this respect. The process should be conducted under the umbrella of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

What is expected from the Bali Conference?

An international agreement needs to be found to follow the end of the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period, which ends in 2012. In order to avoid a gap between then and the entry into force of a new framework, the aim is to conclude a new deal by 2009 to allow enough time for ratification.

The “Bali roadmap” would establish the process to work on the key building blocks of a future climate change regime, including adaptation, mitigation, technology cooperation and financing the response to climate change. But it would also need to set out the methodology and detailed calendar of work for this process.

Is there reason for optimism?

A major step forward was taken at the G8 summit in Heiligendamm in June, where the G8 leaders agreed to negotiate a post-2012 deal within the United Nations framework, with the goal to have an agreement in place by 2009. Significantly, this was supported by the Group of 5 countries with emerging economies: China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa.

Climate change has been discussed at many other high-level meetings around the world this year, including the United Nations Security Council, the pdf-icon UN Economic and Social Council, the General Assembly Special Thematic Debate and the pdf-icon APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting.

In September, the United Nations Secretary-General hosted an unprecedented High-Level Event on Climate Change in New York, attended by over 80 heads of state or government. This was an expression of the political will of world leaders at the highest level to tackle climate change through concerted action, and they gave a clear call for a breakthrough at the conference in Bali.

It was followed by the Major Economies Meeting on Climate Change and Energy Security in Washington on 27 and 28 September, where the United States government clearly voiced its desire to contribute to the UNFCCC process.

From Heiligendamm to Washington DC, political leaders clearly called for negotiations under the auspices of the UNFCCC. The Bali conference is giving the world the opportunity to achieve the breakthrough that it has called for.