Guest Article #1

On the Way to Copenhagen

It is a particular pleasure to have this opportunity to share some of my thoughts through the inaugural edition of this bulletin – which I hope will become a vibrant medium of communication and exchange in the period ahead – as we each do our part to keep the promise we made in Bali and to realize success in Poznań and then Copenhagen.

Our achievement in Bali came as the culmination of years of hard work by many who grapple with the multiple dimensions of the complex challenge of climate change on a daily basis: scientists, economists, politicians, policy makers, technological innovators, public servants and ordinary citizens around the world. To succeed in Copenhagen, we must bring our best to the table in service of a higher purpose. Time is short and the stakes extremely high.

I commend the Parties to the Convention for starting work in earnest during the Bangkok Climate Change Talks and for the progress they made in Bonn. And I wish them all success at future sessions in Accra and beyond.

I have made it a personal priority to ensure that the United Nations plays its full role in this process, not only because climate change is just the kind of global challenge that the UN is best suited to address but also because of the clear moral imperative for bold, decisive and urgent action. We have a duty to the vulnerable who contribute least to the problem but experience its impacts most severely, and we have a responsibility to succeeding generations. We also have an historical obligation to successfully transition to a low-carbon global economy. In the last century, we rose to the occasion to welcome the Industrial Revolution, the technology revolution, and the era of globalization. In this century, responding to the climate change challenge demands that we harness that same resolve.

The United Nations system is taking action to support the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on the journey through Poznań to Copenhagen.  In this effort, we are guided by the Parties' wishes, as expressed in the existing agreements under the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol, and in the Bali Action Plan.

I continue my personal advocacy and action through consultations with world leaders and other measures to sustain political momentum towards a shared vision for long-term cooperative action.

I have repeatedly conveyed the UN system's commitment to strengthen and coordinate its work on climate change. Recently, all UN agencies, funds, and programmes agreed to organize their work on climate change along the lines of the building blocks of the Bali Roadmap. They have committed to delivering concrete results in support of Member States – especially through implementation in five focus areas - namely, reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation; technology transfer; finance; capacity building; and adaptation. And they are also backing action in four cross-cutting areas that underpin progress on each building block – science, assessment, monitoring, and early warning; global, regional, and national action; public awareness; and a climate-neutral UN. These areas were identified primarily in response to the negotiation process, and in pursuance of the broader mandates and capacities in the UN system. I expect to report progress from this process in Poznań.

Raising public awareness among governments, businesses, civil society organizations and individuals remains high on my agenda.  On 5 June 2008, this year's World Environment Day, we promoted the message “Kick the CO2 Habit:  Towards a Low-Carbon Economy.” That theme was chosen in recognition of the damaging extent of our dependence on carbon-based energy and our belief that solutions are within reach.

I also pledge to lead by example. With the groundbreaking ceremony of the renovations for the UN Headquarters in New York on 5 May 2008, we have started the march towards a greener and more efficient UN. It is my sincere hope that at the conclusion of this historic period of renovation we will have facilities that are not only safer and more modern but also a model of environmental stewardship. I know the chief executives of all United Nations programmes, funds and specialized agencies are following suit and moving towards climate neutrality in their respective organizations.

These are examples of some of the specific actions we are taking. When different players – be they an individual, organization, business or government – take action bound by a common cause, we are all energized and our vision is brought that much closer to reality.

Our common priority is a deal in Copenhagen, on time, and in full. This bulletin is a welcome way to keep us in touch and on track as we each do our partto meet our collective obligation to realize this goal.