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Oct 03, 2007

meena raman's speech to the UN

by HelenOlney — last modified Oct 03, 2007 12:50 PM
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Speech of Ms. Meenakshi Raman, Chair of FOEI at the UN High Level Summit 'Future in our Hands: Addressing the Leadership Challenge of Climate Change'

24 September 2007, New York

(Thematic Plenary II on Mitigation)


Meenakshi Raman

Distinguished delegates,


As we all know, the science of climate change today is clearer than ever. Severe impacts are to be expected around the world, increasing in magnitude with increasing levels of warming, if we cannot stop current trends. Especially vulnerable are the poor of the world who already heavily burdened.


The science tells that in order for the most dangerous impacts to be avoided, the average global temperature increase must be kept as far below 2 degrees centigrade as possible, compared with pre-industrial levels. This implies that the long-term concentration of greenhouse gases must be brought back to around 400 ppm carbon dioxide equivalent. The science also suggests that to achieve this, global greenhouse gas emissions needs to be at least halved by the middle of the century, compared with 1990 levels.

Hence, for a post 2012 regime, there has to be agreement on the “burden-sharing” principles between the North and South in avoiding climate catastrophe.


In this regard, the deeper the cuts of greenhouse gases for Annex 1 countries, the less is the burden on developing countries. A cut of more than 80% by developed countries by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels) is clearly needed, both from a climate change perspective, as well as to provide the necessary environmental space needed for developing countries to meet their sustainable development needs.


The proposal by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel to consider a framework of action leading to equal per capita emissions by around the middle of this century is a first of many steps needed. Action between now and then must also be governed by the principles of historical responsibility and the capacity to act.


The issue is whether and how we can find a sustainable development pathway for developing countries that includes not only a climate protection pathway, but also a pathway to improve the living standards of our people and to alleviate poverty within an ecological framework, and enables new policies for agriculture, industry, trade and finance.

For this, mitigation efforts must be integrally linked to the design of the development pathway. Hence, the following issues are critical –

  • The need for coherence in policies at both the international and national levels. In relation to the international level, policy coherence is critical in the WTO, IMF and the World Bank with the MDGs as well as with the climate change regime and sustainable development. Coherence should be around sustainable development and climate change and not around trade. This also requires coherence in developed country policies as well.
  • Instead of advancing such coherence, mercantilist policies are being pursued through the international financial institutions with aid conditionalities, and in the WTO and Free Trade Agreements to open up the economies of the developing countries that undermine sustainable development.
  • How can developing countries put priority in integrating climate change into national policies when international policies and measures exacerbate poverty and inequity, including through the displacement of small farms and firms and loss of access over natural resources to powerful foreign corporations? Such so-called ‘free trade’ policies enhance climate vulnerability as the poor lack the resources to adapt or be resilient to climatic changes.
  • Moreover, for developing countries to undertake a mitigation pathway that enables the rapid domestic deployment of climate friendly technologies, requires changes to the way in which technology transfer is managed andgoverned.  Many of us in the south, like me, believe that there cannot be a strict requirement to comply with intellectual property rights that profits monopolies if we are to succeed.  We must find a way to breakdown the barriers to rapid deployment of clean technologies that the poor can afford.
  • It is also fundamental to undertake lifestyle changes especially in the North and among the elites of the South. We cannot afford to maintain the position that the lifestyles of the rich are not up for negotiation. We have to live simply so that others can simply live!
  • In relation to the technology options for mitigation, we have very serious concerns over nuclear energy, genetically modified trees, carbon capture and storage and biofuels for environmental and safety reasons.Clearly, more emphasis and priority should be focused on energy efficiency, energy conservation and renewables, including decentralized forms of energy production.


If these issues are addressed well, it will make it easier for Civil Society Organisations in developing countries to insist on our governments to have top priority on climate change.


We therefore appeal to the leadership of the North to seriously address these matters. We also appeal to the Southern leaders to begin to take the necessary steps for a post Kyoto framework, recognizing that this requires complementary polices in the South and fundamental changes in the North. 


In Bali, we must see the launch of negotiations for a post-2012 framework in line with the 2 degree centigrade imperative, that will end in 2009 for a more just and climate friendly world.

We in civil society have very high expectations and look forward to you world leaders to deliver this outcome.


Thank you.