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25 June 2008 - Press Release

Kofi Annan Launches Global Alliance for Climate Justice

An optimistic Kofi Annan
(GHF. Photo: Daniel Rihs)

GENEVA, 25 June 2008 – Kofi Annan said today at the first annual meeting of the Global Humanitarian Forum, which he presides, that a global alliance for climate justice is a necessity. Annan, joined by some 300 participants agreed to support efforts to establish climate justice as the guiding principle for a post-Kyoto global climate agreement.

In the tight 18 months before the negotiations for post-Kyoto end in Copenhagen in December 2009, the alliance will work to ensure an equitable agreement there. This should represent the interests of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. “For that polluters must pay and leaders must be held responsible to their promises. Only kept promises are promises that count,” said Annan.

“The human face of climate change” – the millions affected by the more severe weather caused by global warming– was the focus of the meeting. It brought leaders of the humanitarian and development communities together with heads of major corporations, including Richard Branson, the Virgin airlines group Chairman, scientists and academics like Jeffrey Sachs, civil society, including Ela Bhatt, the media and political leaders, such as Javier Solana – the EU foreign policy chief.

The two-day meeting was the first time that the issue of the human impact of climate change, as opposed to its environmental and emissions aspects, was the centre of an international conference of such high and wide-ranging levels.

The Forum will support a number of practical solutions to assist vulnerable populations to cope with increasingly severe storms, floods and drought. These will include a project to ensure weather data for all – referring to the major deficit in weather information for poor but worst affected regions. Another initiative, spearheaded by Rajendra Pachauri, aims to “light a billion lives” with solar lanterns. Pachauri, who received last year’s Nobel Peace prize as Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a member of the Forum’s Board.

The Forum identified water, transfer of sustainable technologies and agriculture as the sectors most in need of action. On water Annan said: “You need to get the price of water right so that everybody has the water they need to survive and wastage is avoided”.
The many solutions identified at the meeting are still up against a major deficit in funding. “All solutions cost money,” said Jeffrey Sachs. Therefore, the Forum will form a targeted follow-up task force to help mobilize funds to meet the immediate shortfall. “There is an urgent need to mobilize funds combining the power of the public and private sectors,” Annan said. However, he also called for adaptation “to be a strong pillar” for the post-Kyoto agreement to be signed in Copenhagen next year.

Also of note, Solana said that “Europe must be a catalyst for moving towards a low-carbon economy,” which would be crucial for efforts to reduce global warming.

“We have demonstrated that by uniting together across sectors that we can achieve more,” Mr Annan said, happy with the meeting’s output in terms of solutions and tasks to be undertaken in immediate follow-up. Mr Annan emphasised that the participants’ ideas would be turned into action, with a targeted follow-up. The first results will be presented at the Forum’s second annual meeting in 2009.

Media contact:
Cécile Coutau
+41 (0) 79 500 35 05
+41 (0) 22 919 75 06
[email protected]


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