Leaders challenged on climate change


22 September 2011

World leaders were challenged to step up the international effort to find solutions to climate change at the Leaders Dialogue on Climate Change, convened by South African President Jacob Zuma and Mexican President Felipe Calderon in New York this week.

The Leaders Dialogue took place during the opening plenary of the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting on Tuesday, bringing together Zuma, Calderon and six other heads of state to highlight opportunities for collaboration and share strategies for addressing the global climate challenge.

Zuma and Calderon were joined on the stage by Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Malian Prime Minister Cisse Mariam Kaidama Sidibe, Slovenian President Danilo Turk, and Grenada Prime Minister Tillman Thomas.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, addressing the leaders, said that governments needed to show greater commitment to achieving success at global negotiations on limiting emissions of greenhouse gases and strengthening adaptation measures – starting with the upcoming UN climate conference in Durban.

Ban called for a clear plan on the future of the Kyoto Protocol, an addition to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that contains legally binding measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and whose first commitment period is due to expire next year.

Ban pointed out that the current climate change mitigation pledges represented only 60 percent of what was needed to have a minimum chance of limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

“We must do better – and soon. Governments need to dramatically increase their level of ambition. Developed countries must take the lead in this effort, but all countries must do their part.”

He told the leaders that he was counting on their commitment to agreement at the 17th Conference of Parties (COP 17) to the UNFCCC taking place in Durban from 28 November to 9 December.

“I appeal to you: help us to achieve success in Durban. Use every ounce of your experience, skills and influence to advance action on climate change. Help us defend the science that shows we are destabilizing our climate and stretching planetary boundaries to a perilous degree.

“Help us to identify the new alliances – among public officials, business, civil society and faith communities – that will make sustainability the rallying point for action in the 21st century. Together, we can build a low-carbon, more sustainable economy – one that can protect the most vulnerable and result in a cleaner, safer, healthier world for all.”

SAinfo reporter