World cannot afford to ignore climate change, UN secretary general says at New Delhi summit


The world must tackle the growing threat of climate change, secretary-general Ban Ki-moon told a sustainable development summit in New Delhi Thursday, stressing that the crisis threatens to roll back development gains and lead to further economic and social misery.

“We cannot afford to ignore or underestimate this existential threat. Failure to combat climate change will increase poverty and hardship,” Mr. Ban said upon receiving the Sustainable Development Leadership Award at the summit taking place in the Indian capital.

“It will destabilize economies, breed insecurity in many countries and undermine our goals for sustainable development,” he told the gathering.

Mr. Ban, who has made climate change the priority of his mandate as United Nations chief, stressed that tackling the threat will require “all our leadership, all our commitment, all our ingenuity.”

While facing up to the crisis will not be easy, he noted, it does provide an “exciting opportunity” to make progress on a range of sustainable development issues.

“By pursuing a green economy based on efficient and equitable resource use, we will cut down greenhouse gas emissions and protect essential ecosystems.

“At the same time, we will reinvigorate national economies, create employment and livelihood opportunities, improve human well-being and achieve our sustainable development targets,” said the secretary-general.

Looking ahead to the crucial climate change negotiations scheduled for December in Copenhagen, Mr. Ban stressed the need to achieve an ambitious, comprehensive and ratifiable agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A successful outcome will depend on resolving three main political challenges, he added.

First, Copenhagen must clarify commitments of developed countries to reduce their emissions, by setting ambitious mid-term targets, with credible baselines. Also important is to achieve clarity on what mitigation actions developing countries will be prepared to make.

Secondly, Copenhagen must advance on the issue of financing the mitigation and adaptation needs of developing countries.

Thirdly, governments, as well as the UN system must come up with credible solutions for the governance of new funds, and for their implementation response.

The secretary-general arrived in New Delhi, following visits to neighboring Pakistan and Afghanistan Wednesday.