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Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear colleagues,
First of all, I wish to compliment the Secretary General for organising our meeting today. The impressive number of high level delegates is a clear sign that climate change is mowing up on the political agenda and that the need for global action is broadly recognized.
Let me also thank the keynote speakers who shared with us today their vision and their compassion. You reminded us of the fact that global warming is a theme not only discussed by politicians and at the United Nations but a burning issue on every street corner and in every teahouse around the world. It is truly a global challenge.
This is not without reason. Day by day, the scientific evidence is getting increasingly clear and more alarming. The 4th IPCC assessment report is very distinct; climate change is already affecting humans and ecosystems on a broad scale. And human activity is to blame for the pace with which the climate is changing.
Fortunately, we still have time to act. Mind you, the costs of inaction may well be immense. Climate change will not only have environmental consequences, it will also influence the way we live and our societies on a broad range of issues such as security, energy, economy, and health.
Science has spoken - now time has come for action. The task may seem to be overwhelming. But with a firm commitment and true political leadership it is manageable.
The overall objective is clear. We have to ensure a stabilization of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at a safe level. In the Kyoto Protocol we took a first small step. Now, we have to take a giant leap.
The answer is a new global climate change agreement with firm commitments for the post 2012 period. The agreement has to be comprehensive and ambitious. And it has to be based on global consensus with the participation of all stakeholders. Global problems can only be solved by global action. The agreement has to be business oriented and build on cost effective instruments. It also has to address the situation of the developing countries and their needs. The principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” is fundamental.
Our success very much depends on the way we look upon the challenge ahead. This is not about creating straitjackets for our economic growth. On the contrary. This moment constitutes a possibility for us to solve one of the major global challenges in the years and decades to come. And we have to seize this opportunity.
The people of the United Nations expect their political leaders to reach a global agreement before it is too late.
So - how do we move from here?
First of all, we have to keep a firm focus on the established UN process. No other forum than the UN is better suited to bring the whole world together for a common response. Constructive and targeted negotiations within the UN framework will be instrumental for reaching a post 2012 climate change agreement.
Secondly, we have to commit ourselves to a positive outcome of the upcoming COP13 in Bali in December. We need to adopt a coherent framework for the negotiations. We have to agree on a “road map” with a firm timeline defining milestones and end-dates for the negotiations. For a new agreement to enter into force by 2012, 2009 is our last call.
If we manage to set the negotiations on track in Bali, we gradually need to increase the momentum. Another important landmark will be COP 14 in Poland in 2008. By then the outline of a final agreement should be visible.
This scenario is not unrealistic. From our discussions today I have the impression that the political will is present. So let us join forces and send a very clear and strong message towards COP 13 in Bali and further on. A message that we have to succeed – that failure is not an option.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues - I look forward to seeing you all at COP 15 in Copenhagen in 2009. Thank you for your attention.