UNEP statement at the opening of the 27th Session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
Valencia, 12 November 2007

Your excellencies:

Mr. Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC,

Mr. Hong Yan, Deputy Secretary-General of World Meteorological Organization

Mr. Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen:

Over the coming five days, delegates to this 27th session of the IPCC will boil down the wealth and the welter of information enshrined in the working groups of the 4th assessment into one seamless and succinct synthesis report.

The world is eagerly anticipating this conclusion as perhaps never before in the history of the IPCC.

Why? because what is produced here in Valencia is the guide that every one of the thousands of delegates attending the crucial climate convention meeting in Bali will be packing in their suitcases and slipping in their back pockets.

It is the final full stop behind the question as to whether climate change is happening and the likely impacts-many of which will happen in the time-frame of people alive today, not in some far distant future.

But the IPCC in 2007 has also offered the world not just a glimpse of a kind of climate-powered Pandora's box, but the key to another box-a box of opportunities from cost effective energy efficiency and cleaner energy options to ones linked to transport, forests and agriculture..

It will not cost the Earth to save it-perhaps as little as 0.1 per cent of global GDP a year for 30 years.

It is not an over-statement to say that the momentum on climate change in 2007 has being nothing short of breath taking - this is in no small part due to the work of the IPCC and its scientists-work that has built on nearly 20 years of achievement.

And here I would like to pay tribute to Dr. Pachauri and his inspirational Chairmanship but also to the Co-chairs, Bureau, the Secretariat and the Technical Support Units for their tireless work.

And last but not least to all scientists who have devoted voluntarily their knowledge, time and energy.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

UNEP and the World Meteorological Organisation are the IPCC's parents-we are of course very proud parents.

But I believe we are also active and involved parents and partners. Indeed, the cross-fertilization between the IPCC's work and UNEP's is broad and dynamic.

There are many good example but let me mention one-the $9 million UNEP-Global Environment Facility "Assessments of Impacts and Adaptation to Climate Change" (AIACC).

In his forward to the report, to be launched in Bali, Dr Pachauri, notes: "The Fourth Assessment Report advances our understanding on various aspects of climate change based on new scientific evidence and research. A major contribution in this regard has come from the work promoted under AIACC.

The relationship is two way. UNEP last month launched its flagship Global Environment Outlook-4-the five year peer-reviewed work of some 1,300 scientists including many who also work for the IPCC.

Meanwhile, GEO-4 takes a great deal of the IPCC findings and weaves and links these across the wider environmental issues- from water and waste to land and marine- in order to gain greater understanding of the sustainability challenges and opportunities facing the people and the planet.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to see this mutual self-interest in the fields of science and assessment evolve to a new level.

This is why I have asked the Director of UNEP's Division of Early Warning and Assessment to step up cooperation and engagement in the IPCC process over the coming weeks, months and years. I propose this cooperation be based on the common responsibility of bringing an understanding of the IPCC findings to bear on national development processes.

This is in addition to UNEP's long standing relationship via the environmental conventions division.

Because, colleagues countries facing the climate challenge now increasingly need assistance and eventually resolution on the question of national impacts-not least for national action on adaptation or 'climate proofing economies'.

UNEP, through its existing structures; its Bali Strategic Plan and One UN work with members of the UN system including UNDP, can assist in bridging that gap with policymakers in capital cities through a variety of lenses including the sustainable consumption and production lens.

Ladies and gentlemen,

UNEP will continue to support the secretariat in more nuts and bolts ways. UNEP, working with Dr Pachauri and his team, have provided a great deal of support to the writing and dissemination into the public domain of the findings of 4th assessment report.

UNEP continues and will evolve its support in terms of outreach including creative ways of communicating complex issues to policy makers and other stakeholders via creative tools-graphics for example.

Making governments, business, cities, civil society and citizens understand the risks but also the rewards they face is part of the heavy lifting needed if we are to sustain the transition to a low carbon society over the long haul.

2007 has been an extraordinary year-it is not yet at an end. Dr Pachauri, we will be glued to our TV and radio sets on 10 December when in Oslo you receive jointly the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the IPCC and its scientists.

But we hope you do not stay in Norway too long-we need you back in Bali!! There is much work too do-work on a post 2012 emission reductions regime-work given ever greater clarity and urgency by the sobering but also empowering new reports of the IPCC.

Thank you


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