Twelfth session of the Conference of the Parties and the second session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol
Nairobi, 15 November 2006
Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
President of the Republic of Kenya, Mr. Kibaki,
President of the Swiss Confederation, Mr. Leuenberger,
Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me start by thanking the Government and people of Kenya for the very warm welcome extended to us in Nairobi.
The urgency to act on climate change is unquestionable. We have heard a lot about what scientists have to say, but what about the countries? At the General Assembly two weeks ago many countries referred to the unprecedented danger of climate change in their statements . Let me give you two examples.
Uganda reported that the water level of Lake Victoria is currently about one meter lower than in the early 1990s. Last year East Africa suffered a serious drought, which led to a further drop in Lake Victoria’s water level. This affected hydropower production, and the region was hit by a severe energy crisis. With some 30 million people living around it, Lake Victoria supports one of the world’s densest and poorest populations. Uganda called climate change a central risk for the 21st century and a greater security threat for developing countries than terrorism.
Bangladesh noted that millions of people in low- lying areas in the Asia-Pacific region would become forced migrants or refugees as a result of sea level rise. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation estimates, that 150 million people in the Asia-Pacific region, roughly the size of the population of the Russian Federation, could be displaced by 2050, with the economic costs rising to billions of dollars per year.
With the well-being of humankind at stake, it is unacceptable to see time being lost in the international climate change process. Delay in decision- making and action puts the world in danger of becoming hostage to climate change. Time has come to bridge the divide among nations and to move forward together towards a longer-term solution.
In my view, part of the difficulty in the discussions of future policy is the false perception that a future climate change regime with broader participation can only mean new commitments for developing countries that constrain their economic development and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, such as poverty eradication. Other seem to hold the view that more stringent emission targets for industrialized countries would jeopardize their competitiveness and put unbearable burden on consumers. However, even under the Kyoto Protocol many industrialized countries have growth targets, some as high as plus 28 percent.
Solution to the climate change problem does not lie in limiting economic development or harming national competitiveness. Rather, the key is to provide incentives for economies to grow along a greener path, and to put in place mechanisms to ensure that resources required to green the growth are available.
The experience within the international climate change process shows that it is possible to create a regime that encourages action and achieves results in the areas that developing countries find important. But it requires that the right policy signals be put in place.
Trust and full engagement of all are at the core of the foundations for the future. A strong regime cannot be built on weak foundations. Therefore strengthening the trust and enabling effective participation are critical for success.
The UNFCCC together with other United Nations agencies are committed to supporting you in this process. The Secretary-General earlier in his speech announced the launch of the Nairobi Framework - an initiative to help developing countries, in particular in Africa, cooperate with industrialized ones under the Clean Development Mechanism, which has become an important vehicle to generate funding for sustainable development.
Recent findings suggest that deeper emission cuts by industrialized countries are required. Some European leaders refer to reductions in the order of 60-80% by mid-century. Cooperation on reducing emissions provides for a cost-effective solution that can green economic growth, facilitate technology transfer and generate funding for adaptation in developing countries.
If half of such emission reductions would be met through investment abroad, it could generate up to 100 billion dollars per year in green investment flows to developing countries. This amounts to less than half a percent of the economic output of industrialized countries, but it is enough, according to the recent analysis by the World Bank, to green the 16-17 trillion dollars of energy investment projected for the next 50 years by the International Energy Agency. Getting this to work would be a move towards a self-financing climate compact, required to tackle climate change.
You have chosen to address climate change within a United Nations context.
I interpret that to mean that you want to find a global solution to this global issue. A solution that respects the interests of small island states, of least developed countries, of oil producing nations and of developing and industrialized economies. A solution that is built on solid foundations of trust and keeping commitments made. As Minister Kibwana said: give room to creative space.
Thank you and good luck!
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Please note: This is prepared text of the speech and may differ from the delivered version.