UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened on Monday the largest-ever gathering of world leaders on climate change in order to facilitate an exchange of views between governments on this issue and to galvanize political will for the upcoming UN climate change conference in Bali in December.
"Given the nature and magnitude of the challenge, national action alone is insufficient," Ban told the participants from over 150 nations, including 80 heads of State or Government at the UN Headquarters in New York.
He thus called for call for a coalition to accelerate a global response to the issue which he has identified as one of his top priorities, saying "that is why we need to confront climate change within a global frame work, one that guarantees the highest level of international cooperation."
Ban cited the findings of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that global warming is directly linked to human activity, calling on the attendees to take "unprecedented action" to meet this challenge.
"We must be guided by the reality that inaction now will prove the costliest action of all in the long term," he said.
Development is seriously impeded by climate change, which threatens to reverse the gains made towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, eight targets to slash a host of ills including poverty by 2015, the Secretary-General noted.
"But it is not a zero-sum game," he said.
Ban pointed out that the UN climate process is the recognized appropriate forum for negotiating global action, and stressed that "our goal must be nothing short of a real breakthrough in Bali" where the UN Climate Change Conference is to be held in December, 2007.
"Today, the time for doubt has passed," he said. "Our immediate challenge is to transform our common concern into a new consensus on the way forward."
"This journey begins in Bali this December. It will succeed or fail based on the strength of the leadership and commitment displayed by the people in this hall," Ban noted.
Meanwhile, he scrutinized the current challenge caused by climate change, saying that most industrialized country emissions are still rising, and their per capita emissions remain unacceptably high.
"At the same time, support for adaptation by poor countries has fallen well short of what is required," the Secretary-General added.
Ban finally set out essential parameters of the global framework, which includes enhanced leadership by the industrialized countries on emission reductions, incentives for developing countries to act but without sacrificing economic growth or poverty reduction, significant increased support for adaptation in developing countries, strengthened technology development and dissemination, and new approaches to financing.
Srgjan Kerim, President of the UN General Assembly, said at the opening of the summit that "with the political will we can overcome the threat of climate change."
He echoed what Ban just stressed, saying the United Nations and the General Assembly should play a central role to tackle this challenge.
Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said at the opening of the summit that helping the poor nations to finance advancements in environmental technologies is in the best interests of the developed world.
He called for efforts to break the stalemate between the developed and the developing worlds on climate change, saying that "it is time we came together in a new international agreement that can be embraced by rich and poor nations alike."
Following the opening remarks by the UN chief and other officials, four simultaneous plenary sessions on addressing the challenges of climate change on all fronts will be held on four themes: adaptation, mitigation, technology and financing.
Each session will be chaired by two heads of State, and speakers include world leaders and other delegation heads, as well as representatives of civil society and the private sector.
The event is convened by the Secretary-General to discuss the climate challenge in order to prepare the way for remarkable negotiations in December, which seeks to determine future action on mitigation, adaptation, the global carbon market and financing responses to climate change for the period after the expiration of the Kyoto Protocol - the current global framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions - in 2012.
(Xinhua News Agency September 25, 2007)