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UNFCCC Executive Secretary Calls for a New Low-Carbon Paradigm

15 October 2012: Addressing the 16th Annual Chatham House Conference on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), provided an overview of progress made in the climate negotiations and outlined the way forward, elaborating upon proposed approaches for enhancing ambition and mobilizing the private sector.

Figueres stressed that climate change compounds global challenges and called for a new low-carbon paradigm. Stating that the "climate process has made more progress in the past two years than over the past ten," she highlighted three key achievements following the UN Climate Change Conference held in Durban, South Africa, in December 2011. First she said governments now had specific objectives to "usher in the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol by January 2013," which would close the regulatory gap. Second, she noted agreement on the finalization of the negotiation stage of the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA) and move towards implementation. Third, she underlined commitment to adopt "a new, universally-inclusive and legally-based agreement by 2015 to start from 2020," stressing that this would close the ambition gap on reducing emissions and support to developing countries.

Figueres indicated that the UNFCCC Secretariat has received proposals from governments, intergovernmental organization, NGOs and business groups on how mitigation ambition could be enhanced, adding that these proposals reflect the following three general approaches: increasing the ambition of existing mitigation pledges; increasing the number of countries making pledges; and recognizing additional supplementary actions and initiatives taken at all levels.

Figueres then emphasized that despite these encouraging developments, more "concrete results" were necessary, in particular in mobilizing the private sector. She noted growing momentum for change, highlighting examples such as: reductions in clean energy costs, leading to increased renewable energy use; investments in clean energy; and recognition by major companies that climate change is "the biggest medium- to long-term risk to opportunity." However, she called for additional action to achieve a low carbon tipping point, stressing the need for: fiscal, monetary and regulatory policy coordination; clear policy frameworks; new thinking on climate-related long-term debt financing to attract large institutional investors; and a clearer carbon price signal.

Figueres also discussed how the low carbon paradigm is perceived through different development lenses, and concluded by urging to "accelerate the energy revolution," "produce cleaner and more efficiently," and "consume more consciously."

The Conference was held around the theme "Climate Change: Security, Resilience and Diplomacy" in London, UK. [UNFCCC Executive Secretary Speech]