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World Conference on Climate Change

Moscow, 29 September 2003



Statement by

Joke Waller-Hunter, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change



It is a great pleasure for me to address this conference that you, President Putin, honour with your presence, which underlines its historical importance. I am encouraged by your reconfirmations of the Russian commitment to action on climate change and to the Kyoto Protocol. I must admit that I had hoped that you would have been more specific, indicating an approximate date for ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, which would have galvanized the intergovernmental process. But I follow the Secretary-General of the United Nations and Klaus Toepfer, when I say that I trust that under your leadership the Russian Federation will recognize its responsibility for global multilateral action on a truly global issue, through prompt ratification.

It is very opportune to be here in Moscow at this specific moment in time, when Russia’s economic development has the opportunity to be increasingly linked with climate change measures. President Putin’s goal of doubling the GDP in 10 years and modernising Russia’s economic structures are important economic aims. Improving the energy efficiency of industry is an essential component of modernising economic structures. There are some encouraging examples from Russian industrial plants, which have begun reducing energy consumption, some by up to 30%, by installing energy efficient equipment, introducing new energy efficient technologies and utilising secondary energy sources. These measures generally improve competitiveness, reduce overall energy costs, secure employment and they are “climate friendly”.

The Kyoto Protocol actually supports such developments through its unique market based instruments. For instance, the use of new technologies as a result of “Joint Implementation” projects could be of key importance for reducing industry’s energy consumption, whilst supporting the pace of economic growth.

The problem of climate change is not a problem that can be solved immediately and in one step. The Kyoto Protocol, important and exhilarating as it is, only represents a first step in the fight against human induced climate change. Actions against climate change and the need for further action must be based on the best available science. The authoritative source of scientific advice to the world community is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Future work undertaken in the context of our Convention needs to be supported by scientific findings. Taking many scientific issues a step further will make a valuable contribution to our inter-governmental process dealing with climate change. What are these issues?

Firstly, narrowing the range of climate sensitivity: the IPCC, in its Third Assessment Report, estimated that globally averaged surface temperature would increase in the range of 1.4 to 5.8C over the period 1990 - 2100. The more definitive these numbers become, the more it would help governments in shaping future mitigation strategies with increased confidence.

Second, understanding the carbon cycle: scientists have been collecting data and improving models for the last decades, and much more is known today. Russian scientists have prepared a comprehensive study entitled “The carbon cycle on the territory of Russia”, which was published in 1999. Undoubtedly, this study made a valuable contribution towards understanding the carbon cycle. However, a complete understanding of how the oceans and the terrestrial biosphere will respond in the future has not yet been reached.

Third, improved regional predictions, which could significantly contribute to the formulation of strategies for adapting to a warmer world.

Fourth, building an observational network to meet the needs of the Convention. The rising interest on the part of countries to learn more about impacts and to develop strategies to adapt can only be fulfilled if there are climatological data from every country that is properly collected, processed and made part of global data sets. Such data will help people today and help predict the climate of tomorrow. Again, Russia, with its observational network on its large territory, has already made a valuable contribution in this respect. Maintaining, and where needed, expanding these networks is an essential, but not an easy task, which will benefit from enhanced international cooperation.

Contributions from the social sciences are becoming increasingly important. We need to know about the social and economic implications of action and inaction. We need to know how to integrate climate change objectives - be it adaptation or mitigation - into overall development objectives. We need the social sciences to analyse the lessons from early implementation efforts, e.g. on the use of the Kyoto Protocol mechanisms, so that we can improve these instruments over time, and are properly prepared for discussions on future commitments.

Honourable President, honoured colleagues, addressing climate change, and doing so within agreed frameworks for action, is a crucial test for the global community to see whether it can stand together to address a very complex, long-term global problem. The effects of climate change will spare nobody on this planet. The outcome of this conference will undoubtedly make a key contribution to finding lasting solutions to the complexities I have just outlined. It will of course also significantly contribute to the scientific debate on climate change and to the work undertaken by the IPCC and the WMO. Having Mr. Bedritsky, Head of Roshydromet and Head of the Russian Delegation to our COPs for many years, as newly elected president of the WMO Executive Council is a guarantee for successful interaction and, of course, our COP that will meet in Milan in December is quite eager to learn the results of this important scientific conference. May I invite the Russian delegation to report on its outcome this year?

Before I end my short address, I would like to extend my thanks to the Chairman of the National Organising Committee and Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Gordeev and the members of the International Organising Committee, notably Academician Yuri Izrael, its chair, for organising this conference. We have worked closely with you over the past months and are pleased to have made a contribution to this conference. Our exhibit, the Climate Change Kiosk, which located just outside, in the foyer, is a clear expression of this cooperation and I would invite all of you to pay a visit to it.

I wish the conference every success and fruitful deliberations.


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