Climate Change

Durban UN climate change talks to finalize institution building arrangements

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC

Té / 17 February 2011

The next UN climate change conference which will take place in Durban, South Africa, towards the end of the year, will focus on finalizing and adopting the institution-building arrangements launched in Cancun, Mexico, last December, as well as the methodologies to provide the rigour and transparency. Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said at a Conference of the Secretariat General Iberoamericana (SEGIB) in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday that the achievements in Cancun were undoubtedly a major step forward for governments, ’but at the same time, they are only a small step for the planet.’

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) noted that the level of ambition, currently on the table, amounted to only 60 per cent of what was needed to limit the temperature increase to the agreed 2 degrees but stressed that a 2 degree increase was no guarantee for the survival of small island states.

She pointed out that no agreement was reached on the year in which global emissions needed to peak.

’This is contrary to what science tells us is needed: a global peaking in 2015 and a 50 per cent reduction compared to 2000 levels by 2050,” Figueres said in her address to the conference, made available by the UNFCCC secretariat.

’In Cancun, nations evidently chose to approach the challenge in a bottom-up manner through a compilation of best national efforts. It is hard to say whether this will suffice to keep the world on a 2C trajectory, or whether this would need to be complemented with a top-down international agreement, either through the Kyoto Protocol or in another way that would increase the certainty of the international framework,’ Figueres stated.

The UN climate change top official said Cancun provided important incentives to develop policies at the national level that respond to the individual needs of countries - both in terms of adaptation and mitigation - while working in tandem with international policy.

She, however, said in terms of adaptation, national policy efforts were still in their infancy, although they were urgently needed.

According to Figueres, many national initiatives have focused on identifying adaptation needs but little real implementation has taken place.

Figueres, who spoke on Latin America’s role in taking climate change to the next level, said in terms of mitigation, Latin America needed to capitalize on the incentives provided by the Cancun Agreements to take climate change action to the next level.

The process of crafting low-carbon national policies that can work in tandem with international policy has already begun, she said.

In 2010, all G-20 economies and others have initiated or completed the development of economic growth plans that are strongly based on low-carbon growth, Figueres said.

According to her, this is encouraging because the 2C temperature limit and envisioned low-carbon growth in the Cancun Agreements will be impossible to achieve without significantly scaling up the use of renewable energies.

However, at present, formidable challenges to this still remain.

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