UN Climate Speech / 19 Nov, 2008
The Governors' Global Climate Summit Address by Deputy Executive Secretary Richard Kinley

The Governors' Global Climate Summit
Beverly Hills, California
19 November 2008

Address by Richard Kinley
Deputy Executive Secretary,
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Please note: This is prepared text of the speech and may differ from the delivered version. 

Governor Schwarzenegger, Honourable Governors and Premiers, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

It is a great honour for me to be here today, in such distinguished company, to speak on behalf of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

I was invited to speak on the theme of Call to Action. One cannot but be impressed by the scope and scale of actions to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases being undertaken by the states and provinces, and industrial sectors, represented here today. Welcome as this is, in the face of today's climate change challenge, these actions can only be seen as a beginning. I am afraid I need to change my theme to Call for more action!

Science has told us clearly that reductions in global emissions of 50% by 2050 are needed, with industrialized countries needing to do even more. And by 2020, barely 12 years away, the world needs to see emissions in developed countries, as a group, reduced by 25-40% against 1990 levels and growth in developing countries emissions well below business as usual. These are extraordinarily ambitious targets that will require concerted national actions and unprecedented cooperation at the international level. One has to contemplate nothing less than a transformation of the global economy to a low carbon development path.

Change on this scale - to address a complex global problem in a globalized economy - can only be achieved if it is built on international agreement; international agreement that encompasses commitments to reduce emissions and to support others in reducing their emissions or in adapting to the impacts of climate change that are increasingly being felt.

The good news, in terms of international cooperation, is that the basis for further action exists. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol have laid the foundation for an ambitious new international regime. They have put in place initial governance, financing and collaborative mechanisms. The Kyoto Protocol created a new commodity and launched the international carbon market. But it is now universally accepted that much more needs to be done.

The second piece of good news is that governments last year, at the Bali Climate Change Conference, launched comprehensive negotiations on long-term cooperative action on climate change, with a focus on arrangements in the period after 2012 when the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period ends. These negotiations are approaching their halfway point on the way to conclusion in Copenhagen in December 2009. The process is set to shift gears and move from a first year of analysis, ideas and proposals to a second year of intensive negotiations.

The Bali Road Map provides a rough sketch of the eventual outcome - but that sketch must now be turned into a detailed tableau. The main elements will be:

- ambitious emission reduction targets by industrialized countries

- actions by developing countries to reduce their emissions, and support for them to take even more actions

- support mechanisms that deliver financing, technology development and transfer and capacity building to enable developing countries to find development paths that are beyond carbon.

- a significant scaling up of resources to help countries adapt to the impacts of climate change, especially the poorest and most vulnerable

Speaking only two weeks after the United States elected a new President, it is difficult not to say something about the situation. That Mr. Obama's election platform includes a pledge to take an international leadership role on climate change has created an expectation and an excitement that will energize the negotiations. Leadership by the United States will be crucial to achieving the success in Copenhagen in 2009 that the world needs. And to achieving the technological breakthroughs and innovations that must come in its wake.

So where in this picture, you may well ask, does action by state and provincial governments fit. Three aspects deserve to be highlighted. First, state and provincial governments control or influence important contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Early action by these governments has shown what can be done - and that action is possible without bankrupting economies. Second, action at the state level can be, in many countries, an important contributor to the ability of national governments to commit to ambitious targets internationally. Third, and finally, state and provincial governments will have key roles to play in implementing international agreements through their policies on climate proofing their societies and as controllers of the levers of emissions.

In conclusion I would therefore say to the Governors and Premiers here "Congratulations on being climate leaders." But the world needs more of the same if it is to meet the climate change challenge - more in your own states and provinces, more in terms of cooperation and mutual support amongst your governments and more in terms of encouragement to national governments. A Copenhagen deal in 2009 is important. Be advocates for it. Despite the difficult negotiations ahead, a Copenhagen deal is in our common interest.

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