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UNGA Second Committee Tackles Climate Change Issues

5 October 2010: The general debate of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) for the 65th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) opened on 4 October 2010, in New York, US.

Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, noted the success of the recent Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Summit and the supplementary side events on small island developing States (SIDS) and biodiversity, but underscored that many persistent challenges demand global attention. He warned that the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20) would only be successful if efforts were bolstered to create a green economy in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development.

Committee Chairperson Enkhtsetseg Ochir (Mongolia) opened the session by encouraging Committee members to participate actively in discussions between the UNGA and the G-20 so as to ensure that the voices of the wider international community were included, which she said would send a strong message to the upcoming Cancun Climate Change Conference on the need to adjust present consumption and production patterns, while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

A number of delegations then made statements. On the climate change negotiations, Yemen, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, called on the international community to address climate change within the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol, and looked forward to the 16th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 16) in Cancun, Mexico. Nepal, speaking on behalf of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, and Nauru, speaking on behalf of the Pacific SIDS, called for progress on climate negotiations through an ambitious and comprehensive outcome in Cancun. Nauru added that “Cancun risks being a failure if we agree to lower our ambitions.” Belgium, speaking on behalf of the EU, reaffirmed its commitment to the achievement of a comprehensive, legally-binding agreement for the climate regime in Cancun. Indonesia, speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), stressed the need for the international community to be open to exploring new growth poles to spur action on existing multilateral frameworks, including green growth, and called for a concrete, action-oriented outcome in Cancun. Suriname, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), stated that while the objective of elaborating a legally binding instrument would not be achieved at Cancun, the meeting later this year represented an important milestone in realizing it.

On climate finance, Nauru, speaking on behalf of the Pacific SIDS, underlined the urgent need to disburse fast-start financing to the most vulnerable countries. Nepal, speaking on behalf of the LDCs, underscored the importance of common but differentiated responsibility and, with Chile, speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, called on the international community to agree on a new, predictable, transparent and substantially enhanced resource mobilization. Paraguay, speaking on behalf of the Landlocked Developing Countries, emphasized the importance of the full support of the international community, through reliable financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building.

Various speakers addressed vulnerability to climate change impacts. Paraguay, speaking on behalf of the Landlocked Developing Countries, underscored that climate change exacerbates droughts and highlighted its impacts on freshwater and fishing yields. Nepal, speaking on behalf of the LDCs, stressed that while they had contributed least to climate change, LDCs bore its “unacceptably disproportionate impact.” He added that extreme weather patterns, floods, melting snow, soil degradation, drought, desertification and rising sea levels made life for those living in LDCs extremely difficult. [UN Press Release]