Press release February 2009 - Secretary-General warns that climate change could lead to economic upheaval - United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
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Secretary-General warns that climate change could lead to economic upheaval

New Delhi, 6 January 2009 - Failure to tackle climate change could lead to insecurity and economic upheaval, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned.

Speaking at the New Delhi Summit on Sustainable Development on 5 January, Ban called all countries to strive to reach a "conclusive carbon emissions reduction deal" at the climate change conference in Copenhagen in December.

The New Delhi summit, which is also being attended by UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, aims to lay the ground work for the key Copenhagen talks on cutting emissions.

During the meeting, UNEP will launch the new report Freshwater Under Threat: South Asia that shows that climate change is likely to lead to severe water shortages across all of South Asia's river basins.

"Failure to combat climate change will increase poverty and hardship. It will destabilize economies, breed insecurity in many countries and undermine our goals for sustainable development," Ban said at the Summit.

The focus at the three-day Delhi gathering is strongly on the United States, which is mapping out a new climate change policy under President Barack Obama. The Obama administration has already taken bold steps on the environment, signing measures to spur production of fuel-efficient cars and vowing to lead the fight against global warming.

Ban said Obama had told him climate change was his "domestic as well as international priority" and assured him of Washington's "full cooperation to make Copenhagen a success."

The Secretary-General, who was given the Sustainable Development Leadership award during the Summit, added that other countries around the world shared the same eagerness to combat climate change.

"Here in India, in China, in the economies of Europe and North America, in Brazil, and also in many regions in Africa I find a new determination and new initiatives," he said, but warned that swift action was crucial.

"Science has shown we are depleting the planet's natural assets at an unsustainable rate," Ban said. "We all realize poverty cannot be overcome if we neglect the environment or deplete our natural capital."

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UNEP Green Economy Initiative

UNEP Division of Early Warning and Assessment


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