UN Secretary-General Says Domestic Politics Undermine Climate Fight

By | February 6, 2009

A climate deal at Copenhagen may not be possible unless politicians take tough decisions without worrying about winning elections and compulsions of their domestic politics, the U.N. Secretary-General said on Thursday.

Ban Ki-moon said the situation had been compounded by the global financial downturn that was making it more difficult for the political leadership to take unpopular decisions.

“Their first priority maybe (is) to get elected first of all, whatever maybe the case,” Ban told a conference on sustainable development in New Delhi. “But they must overcome and look beyond this personal political leadership. They have to demonstrate their leadership as a global leader.

“For political leaders, there is always clearly some political risks that they want to avoid. Political psychology in the midst of global financial crisis, global downturn, (is) they are very weak to the voters.”

From rich nations to developing countries many are shelving ambitions for deep cuts or caps in greenhouse gas emissions as the economic slowdown overshadows the fight against climate change.

In countries such as India, the fourth-largest polluter in the world, climate change is hardly seen as an election issue and barely features on the agenda of political parties.

Ban called on political leaders to look beyond their domestic politics for a deal in Copenhagen. “We have to look at the whole generational issues. Therefore please look beyond your own domestic concerns and look for the future,” he said.

About 190 countries are trying to craft a broader climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol that only binds wealthy nations to emissions targets between 2008 and 2012.

The new deal is due to be wrapped in Copenhagen by December.
Ban said Copenhagen’s success depended on how the political leadership responded to three main challenges.

“First, Copenhagen must clarify commitments of developed countries to reduce their emissions, by setting ambitious mid-term targets, with credible baselines.

“We must also achieve clarity on what mitigation actions developing countries will be prepared to make.”

Alongside, Copenhagen must advance on the issue of financing the mitigation and adaptation needs of developing countries, he said.

“Thirdly, governments, as well as the U.N. system must come up with credible solutions for the governance of new funds, and for their implementation response.”

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.