CANCÚN, Mexico, Wednesday December 8, 2010 – “The clock is ticking, emissions are rising and the deadlines are fast approaching us.”
That was the message delivered by Grenada’s Prime Minister and chairman of Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), Tillman Thomas, to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Mexico.
“It is said that time and tide waits for no man, unless we act now and act fast, the rising tide of climate change will overwhelm us,” he cautioned in a statement delivered on behalf of AOISS at the opening of the High-Level Segment of the Climate Change Conference yesterday.
Thomas said the 43-member AOSIS, which comprises of the countries that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, was not prepared to accept token decisions at the Conference that are simply a beautiful façade but result in no real action and no significant impact on the problem of climate change.
He said the Cancún summit presented a great opportunity to respond in a decisive manner to the call for urgent action.
“When we get such an opportunity, we should grab it both hands,” Thomas said.
The Grenadian leader called for the establishing of an Adaptation Committee to bring consistency to the work being carried out at the global, regional, national and community levels.
He said that provision should also be made for the loss and damage that is already being experienced.
“We call for the establishment of a mechanism to address this loss and damage through risk prevention and risk management approaches,” Thomas said.
He added that these approaches must be appropriate to respond to the scale and nature of the loss and damage being experienced.
“These approaches must be supported by financial resources and therefore the establishment of a new Fund is necessary during this meeting of the COP, with adequate provision for priority access for SIDS and LDCs and for a process to ensure expediency,” Prime Minister Thomas said.
UN boss also makes plea
Meantime, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also made an impassioned plea for agreement on climate change action at the high-level segment of the conference, telling delegates that further delay threatened the health of the planet, the global economy and the well-being of the human race.
“I am deeply concerned that our efforts have been insufficient, that despite the evidence and many years of negotiation we are still not rising to the challenge,” he said.
“We are here for a reason: to protect people and the planet from uncontrolled climate change. To do that, we need to make progress – in these global negotiations and through national actions each of you takes in your countries to curb emissions [of harmful gases] and increase resilience. The longer we delay, the more we will pay – economically, environmentally and in human lives.”
He recalled that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that global emissions of greenhouse gases need to peak within the next decade, before decreasing substantially, if the goal of limiting the average temperature rise to two degrees above pre-industrial levels is to be achieved.
The Secretary-General pointed out that a final agreement on all issues may not be immediately possible, but stressed that there needs to be progress on several fronts at the conference.
“You can take significant decisions here in Cancún on forests, on adaptation, on technology and on the creation of a new fund for long-term climate financing. You also need to make progress on mitigation, on anchoring your national commitments, on accountability and transparency and increasing clarity on the future of the Kyoto Protocol,” he said.
Under the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, industrialized countries committed themselves to a reduction of greenhouse gases. The Protocol expires in 2012 and a replacement arrangement is under negotiation.
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