‘Nature is Ringing the Door Bell’: UN Climate Change Chief

Feb 1st, 2014 | By | Category: CLIMATE SCIENCE, Development and Climate Change, News, UNFCCC, Vulnerability

As the global community takes steps toward protecting itself from extreme weather conditions, a high-ranking UN climate change official is calling on international leaders to re-evaluate their response to environmental reform as nature rings the “door bell” loud and clear.

In a recent interview with Xinhua, Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), responded to a question regarding the international community’s desire to continue with its climate change agenda, saying “I do not think it is a struggle.”

“Unfortunately, nature is ringing the door bell and I do not think that there is a country in the world that has not been impacted by climate change over the past year,” she said.

“In fact, polls show across the world that more and more citizens of many different countries are actually not just aware of climate change, but they are requesting action on climate change,” Figueres said.

Figueres was first appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon in 2010 and renewed her second three-year term in July 2013.

Ban has categorized climate change as “the defining issue of our time” as well as outlining it in his five-year action agenda.

The five-year action agenda by Ban requests that a ” comprehensive climate change agreement applicable to all parties with legal force under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change” be addressed.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY

Earlier this month, Figueres was a key member at the Investor Summit on Climate Risk held at United Nation headquarters in New York.

On the sidelines of the summit attended by 500 prominent global investors, Figueres told Xinhua that “the massive shifts of capital to truly address climate have to be adapted through the capital markets and through investments.”

The conference had this power, she added. “The 500 some investors are here to understand there is a huge risk to them and their bottom line by not investing in clean technologies.”

The easiest one is energy efficiency, she said.

“So by investing in energy efficiency, what a country does, it actually gets more productivity out of the same amount of energy or the same amount of electricity,” she said. “So they are actually saving on the electricity.”

The energy used is called the megawatt which is equal to one million watts. The energy efficiency approach creates a negative megawatt, which represents energy that has been saved.

In essence, “it allows for the same output, the same GDP (gross domestic product) to be produced, the same consumption at home with however a lower electricity bill. That is a huge savings,” she said.

More specifically, the “countries that are under pressure to construct more power plants because there is more demand coming on board from a growing population what energy efficiency does, is it allows them to delay the construction of more power plants,” Figueres said.

“So from every point of view, energy efficiency is a very interesting option,” she said.

RENEWABLE ENERGY

Aside from energy efficiency, renewable energy offers another way to go green, especially for all those countries that do not have on their own territory fossil fuels and who have to import fossil fuels,” she said.

At the moment, some island countries in the South Pacific devoted 10 sometimes even 30 percent of their national budget every year to import fossil fuel for the generation of electricity or transportation.

Those countries, she said, are in a better position to turn to local natural resources for energy generation, rather than import expensive fossil fuels.

“So those kind of countries that have ‘those’ types of conditions could easily put in the regulatory framework in place to attract the investment. That would allow them to generate on their solar, wind potential and on their own native energy,” she said.

The next step is for the international community to agree to a universal contract by June of 2015, said the climate chief.

The agreement will be aimed at helping decide the projector of the dispense of greenhouse gases. “We need to get to the top of that, which we call the peaking point,” she said.

Stressing that the time frame of the process is important, she said, “We need to get to that over the next 10 years” as well as the fact that “we need to see that the trajectory is supposed to decrease.”

Her main focus now is “to eventually have zero greenhouse emissions by the end of this century,” she said.

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