THE YEAR OF CLIMATE CHANGE

LEADERS OF UN, US DECLARE 2009 THE YEAR OF CLIMATE CHANGE
New York, Mar 12 2009 6:00PM

With nations set to conclude negotiations on an ambitious new
greenhouse gas emissions agreement this December, Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon and United States President Barack Obama have stressed
the need for 2009 to be the year of climate change.

Mr. Ban, who met with the “visionary” American leader earlier this
week at the White House in Washington, <"http://www.un.org/apps/news/
infocus/sgspeeches/statments_full.asp?statID=449">told journalists in
his monthly press conference at UN Headquarters today that they both
agree that climate change poses an “existential threat.”

The two men share a commitment that “2009 must be the year of climate
change,” he said, stressing the importance a comprehensive successor
pact to the Kyoto Protocol – the legally binding emissions reduction
regime whose first commitment period ends in 2012 – at December’s UN
climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“With US leadership, in partnership of the United Nations, we can and
will reach a climate change deal that all nations can embrace,” the
Secretary-General noted.

Reports of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (<"http://
www.ipcc.ch/">IPCC) – the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize co-laureate – have
shown unequivocally that the world is warming, almost certainly due
to human activity, with potentially disastrous effects including
worsening drought in some regions and heavier rainfall in others.

Mr. Ban said today that he and Mr. Obama were of the same opinion
that ‘green’ investments are an essential part of any stimulus
package targeting the current global economic turmoil.

“If we are going to spend such tremendous sums of money, let us be
smart about it,” he said.

He said that during his two-day visit to Washington, climate change
also dominated his discussions with key American officials, including
Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, and Congressman Howard Berman, Chairman of the House
Foreign Affairs Committee.

Last week, the top UN climate change official said that he sees
“enthusiasm” in the current US Government to pass laws to reduce gas
emissions and a willingness to work towards a new global climate
change pact.

Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on
Climate Change (<"http://unfccc.int/2860.php">UNFCCC), said he was
“very much encouraged” following his recent meetings with officials
in Mr. Obama’s administration and members of Congress.

“There is, I believe, a huge enthusiasm and energy in both the House
and the Senate to put cap and trade climate change legislation in
place in this country,” he added.

Mr. de Boer also underscored the willingness in the current US
administration “to work towards an agreement in Copenhagen, to come
with an ambitious domestic policy [and] to engage with international
partners” to come to an accord.