Polar-bear.jpgSecretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the deal on climate change reached by world leaders at a United Nations summit in Copenhagen, calling it an “essential beginning” that contains progress on all key fronts, but adding that work must now focus on turning the deal into a legally binding treaty.

Nations attending the Copenhagen conference agreed overnight to “take note” of an agreement reached by the leaders of five countries – the United States, China, India, Brazil and South Africa – after two weeks of marathon negotiations in the Danish capital.

“We have the foundation for the first truly global agreement that will limit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support adaptation for the most vulnerable and launch a new era of green growth,” Mr. Ban told journalists at the conference today.

”The Copenhagen Accord may not be everything that everyone hoped for, but this decision of the Conference of Parties is a beginning, an essential beginning.”

He said results have been made on all four of the benchmarks for success that he laid out during the special leader summit on climate change held in New York in September.

“All countries have agreed to work towards a common long-term goal to limit the global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius many governments have made important commitments to reduce or limit emissions countries have achieved significant progress on preserving forests and countries have agreed to provide comprehensive support to help the most vulnerable cope with climate change.”

The Secretary-General said these commitments have been backed up by $30 billion of pledges for adaptation and mitigation measures for poorer countries, and further commitments to spend more money between now and 2020 to achieve those goals.

He also noted that countries that were on the periphery of the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions are “now at the heart of” global action on climate change.

But he cautioned that serious work lies ahead in turning the Copenhagen Accord into a legally binding treaty, and said he would work closely with world leaders to make that happen.

The Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found that to stave off the worst effects of global warming, industrialized countries must slash emission s by 25 to 40 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020, and global emissions must be halved by 2050.

“We still face serious consequences. So while I am satisfied we have a deal here in Copenhagen, I am aware
that it is just the beginning. It will take more than this to definitively tackle climate change, but it is a step in the right direction.”

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