Call to Action at UN Climate Change Conference

THOUSANDS of representatives from governments and international organisations have gathered for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP17), which seeks to advance ways to cut global carbon emissions and pollution.

The stakes at the two-week long conference are high, as its outcome will determine the future of the Kyoto Protocol, the legally binding treaty to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, whose first commitment period is due to expire in 2012.

UN Independent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity Virginia Dandan said in a statement, that the Durban conference represents a “make or break moment for humanity,” and warned that failure to act would greatly damage future environmental negotiations.

“The world is calling for genuine international solidarity and multilateralism, and for its leaders to take a leap of faith in unison, and as one,” Dandan said. “There is great need for a radical mindset change in order to bring back to the negotiating table the time-honoured values of humanity that have been forgotten after decades of market and profit-driven orientation.”

Dandan underscored that failure in Durban would have a negative impact on the multilateral system as a whole, but would be especially damaging for the UN Sustainable Development Conference (Rio+20) in Brazil in June next year.

“Failure in Durban would impact on the three pillars of the UN – namely, peace and security, development and human rights, and pin the world down to ground zero,” she said.

During her opening remarks to the conference, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Conventions on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Christiana Figueres urged countries to seize the opportunity to finish the tasks set during last year’s negotiations in Cancún, Mexico, and ensure policies are translated into action.

“We meet here at a time when greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere have never been higher, when the number of livelihoods that have been dissolved by climate change impacts has never been greater and when the need for action has never been more compelling or more achievable,” she said.

Energy efficiency remains a key strategy to combat GHG emissions and hence climate change and its effects. By utilising energy efficiently the demand for fossil fuels and new power stations drops, as we make better use of what we have, cutting waste and financial costs.

There is sure to be pressure through COP17 for governments and to consider energy efficiency policies and incentives to combat climate change.

Cooling towers, West Burton Power Station © Copyright Richard Croft and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Wednesday 30th November 2011


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