Ladies and gentlemen,
A warm welcome to all of you. Allow me to extend special thanks to Her Excellency Ambassador Ismat Jahan, the LDC Chair and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh, for taking time to join us this morning.
I am equally grateful to Mr. Yvo de Boer, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), for coming to share with us his perspectives on the forthcoming Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change.
It gives me great pleasure to open such a timely event as we are fast approach what is arguably the most anticipated climate change meeting in years.
I can imagine that much work has already been done to ensure that the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December this year is a great success, and for that effort I must extend my appreciation to Mr. Yvo de Boer and his very capable team.
Ladies and gentlemen, before we begin, kindly allow me to make a few brief remarks.
I am sure you all would agree that the road to Copenhagen has not been easy. It has taken a lot of effort to convince some nations that the impact of climate change ignores political borders, and that it is in fact real and a serious threat to all of us and future generations.
As a result of determined efforts, we are now witnessing some progress as many more countries today acknowledge the need for collective action if we are to deal effectively with this global crisis.
The impact of climate change does indeed affect all of us, but as I have said in various fora, the international community should bear in mind that climate change has far-reaching consequences for the world’s most vulnerable countries.
Among the 49 Least Developed Countries and the world’s 38 Small Island Developing States, climate change has already affected economic growth, health indicators, water availability, food production, coastal erosion and poses a threat to vulnerable ecosystems.
A chief concern raised by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 was that a sea-level rise resulting from a 4 degree Celsius increase in the global temperature would submerge and lead to the total extinction of low-lying island states like Tuvalu, Kiribati, and the Maldives.
For the LDCs in Africa and Asia, climate change will result in flooding of low-lying coastal areas, increased water scarcity, decline in agricultural yields and fisheries resources, and loss of biological resources. The IPPC has predicted that yields from rain-fed agriculture in Africa could be reduced by as much as 50 percent by 2020. Water shortages and the shrinking of land suitable for agriculture would cause other social and political disruptions, including forced migration and conflict.
These are indeed dire predictions which demand serious attention.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As I mentioned earlier, we have already seen progress and there is growing consensus on this issue. It is therefore my sincere hope that as we move closer to Copenhagen, we remain vigilant that the concerns of the most vulnerable nations are not marginalized.
In fact, the conference in Copenhagen is an opportunity which should be seized upon in order to produce tangible commitments which will benefit those less fortunate.
It is my sincere hope that wealthy nations pledge to ramp up funding to pay for climate change adaptation and mitigation programs as well as make it easier to transfer affordable clean-energy technology to the poorer states.
In return, I would like to see developing and LDC nations agree to pursue their own nationally appropriate climate change adaptation and mitigation actions, such as programs to boost use of renewable energy, carbon trading or energy efficiency, in return for concrete pledges of financial and technological support.
Furthermore, it is of vital importance that the nations of the world agree on how developing and underdeveloped countries get access to funding – who governs any new funds emerging from Copenhagen and who decides what is funded when.
This is perhaps an ambitious wish list, but I believe that there is currently global momentum not only to act on this issue, but to act swiftly and decisively.
I thank your for your time.