UN: “Seal the Deal” in Copenhagen
NewsNotes, July-August 2009
“The climate change crisis is the greatest humanitarian and development issue facing the world today.” These are words continuously repeated by Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations.
In keeping with this concern, the Secretary General has launched a major project to raise public awareness about climate change through the Copenhagen Seal the Deal campaign. This is a call to the governments of the world to agree this December, in Copenhagen, on a deal that will protect people and the planet from greenhouse gas emissions.
The campaign is being promoted by the UN Environmental Program (UNEP) through posters and a rubber stamp bearing the Seal the Deal slogan. The rubber stamp can be duplicated all over the world. Everywhere, groups of people are asked to assemble in order to stamp their approval for a global agreement for a climate change solution that is fair, effective and rooted in scientific information that is clear and unequivocal. Individuals, businesses, churches and community groups are stamping the slogan and fixing their signatures to simple homemade scrolls and posters designed for the occasion.
Wherever possible, people are asked to link this occasion with a tree planting activity. Every tree that is planted will count toward achieving the UN goal of planting seven billion trees by the end of 2009 in order to help ameliorate the effects of greenhouse emissions.
While the Seal the Deal campaign was launched on World Environment Day, June 5, a good time for joining the campaign is during Climate Week, September 20-26, a week designated by the UN for gaining momentum in every corner of the world for Copenhagen. One can even join the campaign online at www.sealthedeal2009.org. Every voice counts.
The Secretary General is well aware that the upcoming agreement may fall short of what is actually needed for avoiding severe climatic changes. However, he believes that it is in the best interest of all to establish an agreement even if the agreement is weaker than it ought to be. He is tirelessly urging every nation to do what it can in order to protect its own long term interests and the interests of the entire planet. With this in mind, the Secretary has been contacting and personally visiting heads of state, heads of government agencies and members of parliaments, coaxing all to come to terms with the clear need to mitigate carbon emissions. Country negotiators need to participate in the December meetings knowing they are backed by government commitments.
Fundamental to the Copenhagen agreement is the call to nations that have been putting large quantities of carbon into the earth’s atmosphere over long periods of time to take the greatest responsibility to reduce the amounts of carbon through binding commitments. New heavy emitters, especially China, Brazil and India, require a different standard. In their case the concept of Nationally Appropriate Mitigating Actions (NOMAs) will be applied. These are commitments that are serious, verifiable and reported to the United Nations. However, they are not on the same level as the long term emitters and they are not binding. This arrangement appears to be gaining acceptance by the United States and other states that had formerly resisted a tiered system of responsibility.
The next challenge to the nations is assistance through funding, scientific information, and technology sharing for countries most threatened by climate change at the present time. These are located in Small Island States, Delta areas, Sub-Sahara Africa and communities near the polar extremities.