Hero Background

UN Climate Change Newsroom


These pages and sections capture news of climate change and stories about the groundswell of climate action by governments, companies, cities, the UN and civil society around the globe. To provide feedback, email us at press@unfccc.int Photo©Naziha Mestaoui

UN Second Committee’s 28th meeting

New York, 31 October 2011


Statement delivered via video link by

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change



H.E. Abdul Momen, Chair of the Second Committee,

Colleagues from the UN system,


Ladies and gentlemen,


The progress report that you have before you provides an overview of the outcomes of the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2010, held in Cancun, Mexico 29 November to 10 December. It includes outcomes of the sixteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP16) and the sixth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP6). Furthermore, it includes updates on the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long -term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA), as well as the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP).


The climate change conference in Cancun can only be described as a success. The conference produced the Cancun Agreements, which were adopted with near unanimity amid rounds of standing ovations. This reflected that Parties were eager to restore confidence in the process and to capture the progress that had been made since 2008, specifically in the work of the AWG-LCA.


The Cancun Agreements form the basis for the largest collective effort the world has ever seen to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. All industrialised countries and a large group of developing countries anchored their emission reduction targets and actions within the UNFCCC process. Additionally, developed countries are compelled to develop low -carbon growth strategies, whereas developing countries are encouraged to do so. The agreements also establish the goal of keeping the global average temperature rise below two degrees Celsius. Further, they recognise the need to consider strengthening that goal, including in relation to a global average temperature increase of 1.5C, this means that governments are committed to a future of low carbon growth with high resilience and low carbon emissions.


Importantly, the agreements include the most comprehensive package ever agreed by Governments to help developing nations deal with climate change. This encompasses an agreement to mobilise USD 100 billion per annum by 20202, as well as the creation of three new institutions: the Green Climate Fund, a technology mechanism to help spread the use of clean and adaptation-related technologies, an adaptation committee to coordinate adaptation action and capacity-building support.


The Cancun Agreements represent a solid foundation on which further progress can be built going forward. Parties have already taken on this challenge and have worked hard during 2011 to advance issues. At the same time, Cancun, for all its successes, did not resolve all the political issues that need clear answers if the climate change regime is to evolve to the next level.


As a result, the up-coming UN Climate Change Conference in Durban needs to advance two sets of issues: to complete the work from Cancun, and secondly, to address the remaining political issues


Regarding the first set of tasks, Parties are well prepared to further drive the implementation of the Cancun Agreements.


The Ad Hoc Working Groups have held three formal negotiating sessions this year. Under the Convention, the AWG-LCA has produced draft decision texts, which will be considered at the up-coming UN Climate Change Conference to be held from 28 November to 9 December in Durban, South Africa.


Progress was also made in terms of designing how the new institutions will function. To this end, a document detailing how the new fund will operate will be forwarded to the Durban conference for consideration and approval. Additionally, the group tasked with designing the Technology Mechanism has made such good progress that the mechanism is very likely to be fully operational in 2012.


In other words, I am happy to report to you that the implementation of the Cancun Agreements is well on track.


The second set of tasks relates to how governments will work together to achieve their common goal of limiting the global temperature rise to a level which will prevent the worst ravages of climate change.


Governments meeting in Durban need to tackle the political questions over the Kyoto Protocol and the evolving mitigation framework going forward. Negotiations under the Kyoto Protocol have clarified the technical issues, which in turn has paved the way for urgent political decisions that need to be made.


Specifically, Durban needs to address both further commitments of developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol and the evolution of the broader mitigation framework under the Convention, while ensuring the differentiated participation of developing countries. This is the defining challenge of the Durban conference.


The last political issue on which progress needs to be made in Durban is on long-term climate finance. While industrialised countries agreed to mobilise USD 100 billion, a clear decision on a pathway to secure long-term sources of finance is needed in Durban.


Notwithstanding these challenges, I am confident that Durban can be another firm step forward on the road to a full climate change regime


While Cancun needed to produce an outcome that restored confidence in the functioning of the climate change process, Durban needs to produce an outcome that restores confidence in the process’ ability to decisively rise to the challenge of climate change.


In closing, I would like to encourage you to take work related to climate change forward in the General Assembly, and to support implementation by helping to make the necessary linkages to other important issues on your agenda. This will ensure an integrated and effective response to climate change.


Thank you.



- - - - -

Subscribe to our newsletter