UN chief backs differentiated role for nations in addressing climate change

08 Dec 2014


United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for differentiated responsibility for countries, based on the levels of development achieved by these countries, in meeting emission targets. 

The UN chief said it was 'not fair' for all countries to make the same level of contributions, given their different phases of development and needs, a stand also taken by India.

"It is clear that every country has to act in accordance with its own national circumstances and level of development. No country can dictate to another sovereign country. But climate change is a global challenge that requires a coordinated global approach. All countries must play their part," the Secretary General said.

The United States and China, the world's worst polluters, had last month announced a significant deal setting limits on greenhouse gases.

While the US said it intended to achieve an economy-wide target of reducing emissions by 26 -28 per cent below its 2005 level in 2025 and to make best efforts to achieve 28 per cent target, China said it hoped to achieve the peaking of CO2 emissions around 2030 and to make best efforts to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20 per cent by 2030.

While the Narendra Modi government in India has vowed to address environmental issues on its own volition, India has said it was unfair to expect the same level of contributions from India as those promised by the US and China, which have been the biggest emitters.

Ban also said it was unfair to expect same commitments on reducing emissions from all countries.

"It is not fair for all countries to contribute the same, countries face different circumstances, are in differing phases of development, and have different capacities and needs. But every country needs to do what it can. This is an investment in our collective future," he said.

"It is in everyone's self-interest to take action. All countries and people will win if we act. Everyone loses if we do not, especially the world's poorest and most vulnerable," he added.

India has also made a strong pitch for a new global order on climate change, saying it cannot only be about mitigation and emission cuts, it is also equally about the viability and capability of adaptation.

Ban said it is "absolutely true" that that the adaptation and resilience agenda has not received the attention or financing that is needed.

"Climate change is already happening, and countries and communities in developing countries need the assistance to build climate resilient economies," he said.

Despite public funding of climate change adaptation measures reaching as high as $26 billion in 2012-2013, a new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report predicts a significant funding gap after 2020 unless new and additional finance for adaptation is made available.

The first UNEP Adaptation Gap Report finds that even if global greenhouse gas emissions are cut to the level required to keep temperature rise below 2°C, the cost of climate change adaptation in developing countries is likely to reach two to three times the previous estimates of $70-100 billion per year by 2050.

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