Other / 21 Sep, 2009
Speech by Yvo de Boer at AOSIS Summit on Climate Change

Alliance of Small Island Developing States Summit on Climate Change

New York, 21 September 2009


Opening remarks by
Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change



Mr. Chairman,


Distinguished representatives,

Ladies and gentlemen,


It is a great pleasure for me to address you at this important and timely event.

The clock is ticking. There are only 16 days of official negotiating time left to reach agreement in Copenhagen on a deal that is set to mark a new era of international climate change cooperation.

There is a lot at stake for you, as you are fully aware. Your active involvement and engagement in the negotiations shows this. You already suffer from the damaging impacts of climate change and these impacts are expected to increase over time.

Many of you, therefore, have a long record of adaptation strategies and policies. Copenhagen can help you step up your actions to protect your people, properties and infrastructure and spur climate-resilient development.

A Copenhagen deal also represents the opportunity to fundamentally shift your economies on a sustainable, low-emissions path. Energy prices remain high even in a global recession and are likely to increase rather than to decline in the future.

Some of you are already working on national energy policies, with an emphasis on energy efficiency and renewable technologies. Copenhagen can generate more money and technical support to increase these actions.

In my view, Copenhagen can be called a success if it delivers the following:

Firstly, enhanced action on adaptation, including:

  • Urgent assistance to the poorest and the most vulnerable nations;
  • Capacity-building and technology cooperation, for example in the areas of risk assessment and monitoring, including early warning systems.

Secondly, Copenhagen must deliver ambitious targets by developed countries to reduce emissions by 2020. The numbers that are currently on the table don’t add up to what science tells us is necessary to keep global temperature rise within safe boundaries. Clearly, one of the major challenges for the upcoming weeks is to achieve a higher level of ambition, as your countries rightly keep pushing for.

Thirdly, Copenhagen must deliver national actions by developing countries, especially the major emerging economies, to limit the growth of their emissions.

Fourthly, scaled-up and stable financial and technological support to enable developing countries to step up their actions to adapt, and to steer their economies towards a low-emissions future.

Much of the discussions are now focused on the exact amount of money that should be raised in 2020 or 2030. I believe it is more important and constructive that Copenhagen agrees on a cost sharing formula for the growing amount of money that will be needed over the coming years.

In addition, Copenhagen should provide kick-start money of about USD 10 billion per year for developing countries to develop solid plans that show how they intend to adapt to climate change and limit emissions as well as to cover the immediate cost of adaptation.

Last but not least, Copenhagen must provide clarity on equitable and fair governance structures that manage this support and address the needs of developing countries.


The issues I just mentioned are the key political issues that need to be resolved in the little time left before Copenhagen. This can only be done under your leadership. Negotiators need your guidance to be able to move on all issues and to achieve a comprehensive, fair and effective outcome.

Over the last couple of weeks, there have been a number of positive signals that in my view indicate the political will to reach a result in Copenhagen. Japan’s recent announcement to increase its target from -8 per cent to -25 per cent was extremely encouraging. Also, China and India are moving forward.

A Copenhagen success, however, will only happen if governments are bold and practical, and match political realities to the ultimate goal. As the conscience of the Climate Change Convention, it is of great importance that your countries keep pushing for a high ambition level in the long-term. For some of you, as has been pointed out, it is a matter of sheer survival. But I also appeal to you to use Copenhagen to enhance urgent and immediate actions that are required now, in the immediate years ahead.

Copenhagen can and must be your opportunity. It is simply not an option to let this unique moment slip by. There is too much to win and too much to lose for the entire world community, and most certainly for your countries.

Thank you


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