COP21 must be ‘turning point to a low-emission, climate-resilient future’– UN official

Assistant Secretary-General on Climate Change Janos Pasztor briefs the press. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Assistant Secretary-General on Climate Change Janos Pasztor briefs the press. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

20 November 2015 – The United Nations climate change conference, widely known as COP21 must be the turning point towards a low-emission, climate-resilient future, the top UN official dealing with climate issues said today just days before the start of the international gathering in Paris, France.

“World leaders have expressed their support for the COP and have reaffirmed that they will attend the start of the Conference on 30 November,” said Janos Pasztor, the UN Assistant Secretary-General on Climate Change, noting that more than 120 have confirmed their participation in the 21st Meeting of the States Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is expected to run through 11 December.

“The attacks in Paris, however, are affecting the preparations and activities planned for COP21 – especially those that are outside the formal conference location at Le Bourget,” he continued.
Mr. Pasztor said the decision of the Government of France to cancel the climate march planned on 29 November must be respected.

“We hope that leaders and negotiators will still heed the voices of civil society who will gather and march in their towns and cities around the world – now counting over 2000 – to show support for climate action during the weekend of November 29th through peaceful mobilization,” the Assistant Secretary-General stated.

Meanwhile, he stressed that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon remains committed to working with leaders to achieve a successful outcome in Paris, recalling that last week, he spoke to G20 leaders on climate change, and urged them to guide their negotiators to achieve ambitious outcomes in Paris.

The UN chief is scheduled to meet with leaders at the ASEAN-UN conference in Kuala Lumpur this weekend, at the Commonwealth Heads of States and Government Meeting in Malta next week, and at the COP itself, to help unlock progress on what Mr. Pasztor said are “several sticking points.”

“The preparatory process for Paris is showing results,” he explained. “Various informal ministerial meetings have achieved certain convergence on some key political issues – the details of which still need to be negotiated in Paris.”

According to the latest figures, more than 166 countries, which collectively account for more than 90 per cent of emissions, have now submitted national climate plans with targets, known as the INDCs.

“If successfully implemented, these national plans bend the emissions curve down to a projected global temperature rise of approximately 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century,” the climate expert said, adding that it is significant progress but is still not enough.

“The challenge now is to move much further and faster to reduce global emissions so we can keep global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius. At the same time, there must be support to countries to adapt to the inevitable consequences that are already upon us.”

Underlining that the two-week conference in Paris is not the end point, Mr. Pasztor said “it must mark the floor, not the ceiling of our ambition.”

“We are optimistic,” he told reporters, while adding that there is still a great deal of work ahead to be done before the global community realizes a universal, meaningful agreement, taking place in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by Member States in September.