UNFCCC Executive Secretary Outlines “What is Being Done” on Climate Change

Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC Executive Secretary8 October 2012: Delivering a lecture titled “Is anything being done on climate change?” at the Central Bank of Barbados in Bridgetown, Barbados, Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, conveyed three messages, namely that: climate change is happening; the world is doing something about it, "not enough, but we are walking in the right direction;" and much more can be done at the national level.

Figueres underscored that current climate modelling has underestimated both the speed and the scale of potential impacts of climate change, highlighting the high rates of ice melting in the Arctic and Antarctica. Pointing to the fact that hundreds of millions of people may have to migrate because of the impact of climate change on water scarcity, sea level rise, food security and disasters, she stated that "climate migration may in fact become the most pressing humanitarian challenge of all times."

Figueres provided an overview of progress achieved in the global climate negotiations, underscoring that "the international effort under the UN to construct an adequate and comprehensive response to climate change has advanced more in the past two years than in the past ten." She highlighted the following steps taken by government to lead to "a concerted and urgent reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions," in particular, agreement: to negotiate by 2015 a legally-based framework to cover all countries from 2020; to consider how to raise their ambition to cover the gap before 2020; and on a science-based reality check on progress, starting in 2013. She also underscored the importance of: channelling technology to developing countries; bringing greater focus and efficiency to adaptation efforts; and raising and channelling the finance for adaptation and mitigation by launching the Green Climate Fund (GCF), and ramping up fund flows to US$100 billion per year by 2020. She indicated her expectation that parties in Doha will to take decisions on all these elements.

In concluding, Figueres welcomed Barbados' efforts related to climate resilient coastal development and stressing its high dependency on imported fossil fuels, she underscored the opportunities in investing in renewable energy. [UNFCCC Executive Secretary's Lecture]