by Xinhua writers Gu Zhenqiu, Wang Xiangjiang, Baijie
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to convene the Summit on Climate Change -- the largest summit of world leaders to address climate change -- next Tuesday in a bid to mobilize the political will and vision and generate the momentum needed to reach an ambitious agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, in December.
Ban, who puts top priority on the global efforts to deal with climate change and calls 2009 "the year of climate change," chairs the upcoming summit to focus heads of state and government on the need for urgent action, and to mobilize the highest level political will needed to reach a fair, effective, and scientifically ambitious global climate deal at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this December.
Countries agreed to launch the new negotiations on a global agreement to tackle climate change at the end of 2007 in Bali, Indonesia. Their target for concluding the agreement was the 2009 Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. To reach that goal, they set up an accelerated schedule for negotiations.
However, paving the way for constructive negotiations have proven extraordinarily complex. "This is an incredibly complex negotiation process. Unfortunately, we have not made much progress in the UN climate change negotiations," Ban told Xinhua on Tuesday in an exclusive interview. "That is why I am convening this summit meeting."
Against such a backdrop, countries have now reached a point where political direction from the highest level is needed. "This is a crucially important and historic moment when leaders of the world can demonstrate their political leadership addressing climate change," the secretary-general said.
Indeed, time is running out for negotiators. "I hope that this summit meeting can make a successful bridge to Copenhagen meeting," Ban told Xinhua. "We have only 15 days left in terms of negotiating days. We must seal the deal for a comprehensive, equitable and balanced climate deal in Copenhagen."
In order to seal the deal in Copenhagen, the secretary-general visited many countries, such as China and Norway, where he visited the Arctic a couple of weeks ago.
"If we do not take urgent action, we will have to see a virtually ice-free North Pole," Ban said. "This will raise the sealevel by 1.2 meters. This will be devastating to the world; therefore, I am committed and I count on all world leaders to work hard and to demonstrate their political leadership."
"The New York Summit is premised on the notion that, with sufficient will, countries can reach an agreed outcome in Copenhagen that is fair, comprehensive, equitable, and satisfies the scientific bottom line for an effective response," UN officials said.
In fact, climate change is the most fundamental geo-political issue of our time, affecting everything from the health of economy worldwide to the health of citizens across the globe, energy security and international security. By definition, the United Nations sees it as a head of state issue requiring immediate prioritization.
Diplomats from nearly 200 countries will gather in Copenhagen, capital of Denmark, in December to negotiate a successor to the 1997 Kyodo Protocol, which for the first time bound wealthy countries to specific cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Most of these emissions come from burning fossil fuels -- coal, oil, and natural gas -- for energy, from deforestation, and from the agricultural sector. They must be cut deeply in the coming decades if the world is to control the risk of dangerous climate change.
WHY UN SUMMIT?
It is true that aspects of climate change have been on the agenda of other high-level meetings, such as the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized countries and the Major Economic Forum. It will also be on the agenda of the summit of the Group of 20 (G20) largest economies in the world, scheduled to be held in Pittsburgh, the U.S.
None of these meetings, however, are as inclusive as the Summit on Climate Change convened by the secretary-general. "It is the only high-level meeting where all countries, from the largest emitters to the most vulnerable, can meet on an equal footing," UN officials said. "Climate change is a global problem that demands a global solution. Discussion must involve all countries."
The United Nations, which groups 192 member states, is the most universal inter-governmental organization in the world.
The summit aims to advance the negotiations, but is not a negotiating session itself. It provides a forum where leaders can discuss fundamental issues, find common ground and provide guidance to their negotiators.
There will not be a formal outcome, such as a declaration or communique. The main outcome of the summit will be captured in a Chair's Summary at the end of the one-day event.
The summit will capture the ideas presented during the discussions and in the prerecorded statements from Summit participants, and will represent the expressed political will of leaders to reach a successful outcome at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.