10 December 2009 – Negotiators at the historic United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, are making good progress in the area of technology, a senior official with the world body said.
“I sense there is a real seriousness now to negotiate,” Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said today in the Danish capital, where nations are expected to wrap up talks on a new agreement during the two-week gathering.
He told reporters that he sees an “emerging” agreement, with countries wanting to see a new technical mechanism, including an executive body overseeing technological development and transfer, result from the conference.
Further, Mr. de Boer noted there is a growing consensus to set up a consultative network for climate technologies which would support developing nations’ efforts to take action on both adaptation and mitigation.
He also stressed that the Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period expires in 2012, must remain in force.
It took eight years from the time the instrument was ratified to when it entered into force. Even if an agreement is reached in Copenhagen, “you can’t guarantee how quickly it will enter into force and I think it’s important to avoid a gap,” the official said.
Also, as many developing nations have pointed out, he said, the Protocol is the only legally binding instrument currently in force on climate change.
“There is no good reason at this moment to abandon it,” he said. “What there is good reason for is to come to a new process under the convention that engages the United States and allows for broader participation of developing countries and that really stimulates action now up to 2012 and beyond.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reiterated his call on nations to “seize the moment” to reach a deal in Copenhagen.
In a message to a Summiteers’ Summit to Save the Himalayas in the Danish capital, he said that he sees hopeful signs.
“Never have so many different nations of all sizes and economic status made so many firm pledges together,” Mr. Ban said, exhorting countries to “continue pushing higher for still higher ambition.”
He warned that if the world continues on its present course, climate change will roll back years of successes in development and poverty reduction, among other areas.
For the world’s humanitarian community, at the Copenhagen summit, “the focus should be on adaptation,” not just on mitigation, or the reduction of emissions, John Holmes, the top UN relief official, said at a press conference in New York today.
“We’re not talking about something that may or may not happen in 50 years’ time or 20 year’s time,” he said. “We’re talking about something which is happening now.”
Mr. Holmes, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, called for countries to provide funding for adaptation, with a large proportion of those resources being earmarked for disaster risk reduction.
In a related development, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) partnered with Brazil’s National Institute for Space Institute (INPE) to monitor greenhouse gas emissions as part of a push to help developing countries monitor their impact on climate change.
Forest monitoring is a key element of UN-REDD, an initiative aimed at combating climate change by creating incentives for poorer countries to reverse the trend of deforestation and invest in more sustainable forms of development.
Many developing countries will have to invest in monitoring systems before joining a UN-REDD mechanism, but the systems in these nations are often not accurate enough for the measurement, reporting and verification of forest carbon stocks.
INPE’s work paves the way for large-scale monitoring of deforestation and forest degradation to provide accurate information to the public, and the same data and systems will be available to other countries to allow them to advance their own monitoring.