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UNGA General Debate Addresses Climate Change and Governance Issues

28 September 2010: As the UN General Assembly's (UNGA) annual high-level debate continued on 28 September 2010, high-level representatives from developing countries urged greater global support in responding to climate change.

A number of developing country representatives called on developed States to take urgent action to address climate change. The Bahamas indicated that, in collaboration with other small island developing States (SIDS), it called on the international community to undertake “urgent, ambitious and decisive” action to significantly reduce emissions of all greenhouse gases (GHG). He stressed the need for financial resources and transfer of technologies to be provided to developing countries. Cape Verde and Denmark also underlined the importance of fulfilling commitments on fast-start financing announced in Copenhagen. Tuvalu highlighted that access to such funds was difficult and time consuming for small island States to undertake in the timely manner required.

Numerous speakers referred to the ongoing climate change negotiations, calling for a fruitful outcome in Cancun in late 2010, at the 16th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 16) to the UNFCCC. Mauritius emphasized that the principle of common but differentiated responsibility should guide the negotiations. Tuvalu called for three political commitments out of the Cancun meeting, namely agreement on: all amendments and rules for the Kyoto Protocol to avoid a gap between the commitment periods; a mandate for the start of negotiations on a legally binding agreement based on all elements of the Bali Action Plan; and a set of decisions to provide interim steps in the implementation of measures to be incorporated into the legally binding agreement. Cape Verde noted a tendency towards pessimism rather than optimism in the ongoing climate negotiations.

The vulnerability of developing countries to the impacts of climate change was mentioned by various speakers. The Bahamas and Cape Verde stressed the vulnerability of SIDS, highlighting the threat of sea-level rise.

Mauritius underscored the need for SIDS to be recognized as a distinct category of countries because of an inherent specificity they shared. He added that as such, they deserved special treatment, particularly in accessing ODA and concessionary funding. He noted that the present GDP criterion for graduating least developed countries (LDCs) to middle-income country status was most unfair to small island States because their unique vulnerabilities were not taken into account. The United Arab Emirates informed that his country had initiated a partnership programme with Pacific SIDS. [UN News Center Press Release] [UN Press Release] [UNGA's General Debate Website]