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Ahead of climate talks top UN environment official stresses need for longterm

“The scientific evidence clearly shows that climate change is the most serious socio-economic and environmental problem facing humanity in the 21st century,” said Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). “While pushing ahead to ensure immediate short-term action, governments must also build the basis for a long-term structured and coordinated response to the problem.”Mr. Toepfer said that during the talks, governments should concentrate on several issues, including reaching a clear common agreement on the rules for obtaining emissions credits through emissions trading and carbon sinks.”When these instruments are in place and operational, governments will have a more complete picture of what it will cost to achieve their Kyoto emissions targets, and private business will be able to take actions on a reliable basis,” he said.Governments should also focus on sending a clear signal to civil society, and especially the business community, that despite some differences between governments there is a common commitment for action, he added.”On the basis of thorough scientific research, all countries agree that we now have firm proof that climate change is happening,” said Mr. Toepfer. “More scientific study is useful, but this should not be used as an excuse for inaction.”Noting that representatives of some of the world’s leading financial organizations will be on hand at the Bonn meeting to deliver their position on climate change, Mr. Toepfer said that the financial sector was taking a proactive role on climate change and “it is important that they receive positive signals.”Furthermore, industrialized countries should concentrate on helping to fight climate change by boosting their financial cooperation with developing countries for creating climate-friendly economies, he said.Lastly, governments need to look at investing in clean energy infrastructure and promoting technology transfer to developing countries. “The development process, urgently needed to fight poverty, must become less carbon intensive,” said Mr. Toepfer. “We must do everything we can do integrate clean technologies that have a higher energy efficiency, and also look for new sources of energy production.”Stressing that climate change was not simply an environmental problem but a “huge threat” to the overarching goals of poverty reduction and the attainment of sustainable development worldwide, Mr. Toepfer said he hoped governments and civil society, including private business, will go to the climate discussions with a positive attitude. “We must avoid an atmosphere of confrontation,” he said. “We must advance the Kyoto mechanisms and keep the process alive.” read more