UN climate chief hopeful ahead of Cancún summit in December

In two weeks’ time, governments will meet in the Mexican coastal city of Cancún to finalize the long-term global response to climate change. This will include adapting to its effects, reducing the levels of greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change, and financing to help countries with this fight. Christina Figueres, head of the UN climate change secretariat which is based in Bonn, Germany, spoke to journalists there about the status of negotiations. Dianne Penn reports.


Duration: 2’44

Solving climate change not only tackles environmental problems, according to the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres. By effectively addressing climate change, all countries could achieve what she described as “sustainable, affordable, equitable and profitable development.” But, she adds, action has to happen now.

“There is actually much hope to be taken from the actions that countries have already taken at a national level. There is of course always a difference between what you do nationally and what you actually commit to internationally. So what we’re seeing here at this point is that countries are moving faster forward with their national commitments than they are with the international commitments, and partly due of course to the necessary balance that has to exist at the international level of everyone pulling their weight.”

Ms. Figueres hopes that among other goals, the Cancún summit will give the final word on continuation of the Kyoto Protocol, the treaty that sets binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions which are responsible for climate change. The Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

“The Cancún agreement must also in its package include the next steps to be taken by countries with respect to long-term financing. The discussion there is whether a fund will be created in Cancún and then a design process, or whether it would be better to first have a design process and for the political decision to establish the fund.”

The head of the UN climate change secretariat also promises that Cancún will be different from the international summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, last December. One of the lessons learned from that meeting concerned overcrowding, which her office has been working to avert. And she is optimistic about the outcome in Mexico.

“One must remember that climate is a global problem and can only have an ultimate global solution. There is not one single country – be it a large or a small country – that is not already directly impacted by climate change, and hence all countries need to be a part. And there is a growing understanding throughout this year that countries are actually addressing issues in a much more serious manner and have restored a sense of trust with each other.”

Christiana Figueres, executive director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, speaking to journalists in Bonn, Germany, today.

Duration: 2’44″

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