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As UN's Ban Heads to Bali, Caps on Greenhouse Gas by Poorer Countries is the Question

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, December 6 -- As Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon prepares to travel to the climate change summit in Bali, Thursday he read prepared remarks and took questions from the UN press corps. The topics ranged from Darfur -- the lack of helicopters and the UN's $250 million no-bid infrastructure contract with Lockheed Martin -- through Lebanon, Kosovo and Iran before any global warming question was asked. Inner City Press sought Ban's position:

Inner City Press: The UN Development Program issued a report that's recommended, among other things, that even developing countries like China and India, commit to caps of emissions.  But Dr. [Rajendra] Pachauri of the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] and India have both been critical of the report, calling it misplaced to call in advance for those caps.  What's your position?  Do you think that all countries, including relatively lower income developing countries, like India and China, should commit to hard caps on emission of greenhouse gases?

SG:  On this special issue of capping the greenhouse gas emission reduction, I know that there are different positions in the international community. As far as I am concerned, as Secretary-General, as a matter of principle, there should be mandatory capping.  However, I know that there are some concerns in some of the developing countries, therefore, this issue should be discussed in the future negotiation process.  My goal, or target at this time, is to first of all, launch the negotiation with a timeline, with the future agenda.  But my hope is that, in the source of future negotiations, [the] international community will be able to agree on this issue.

            But in Bali so far, India and China are leading a group which is turning the tables on the developed countries, "demanding a legally binding instrument that would force rich countries to transfer clean technologies that they (and their industries) hold intellectual property rights to and also pay poor countries for adaptation to climate change consequences." This call was echoed Thursday at the UN in New York, in testimony to the General Assembly by China's Deputy Ambassador Liu Zhenmin.

            Coal, major source of emissions, was not mentioned on Thursday, only new fangled light bulbs and appliances. Nor did Ban say if he will be carbon offsetting his trip to Indonesia.

Ban Ki-moon, climate change evangelist

            In his prepared remarks, Ban referred to himself as a "climate change evangelist, banging a drum and calling on the world to follow." Clearly, there are alternative religions, and some who are ignoring the drum.

News [production] analysis: Ban Ki-moon seems to be eschewing sit-down press conferences. Thursday his staff installed a new microphone at the stand-up stakeout in front of the Security Council, with a lectern for Ban to rest his prepared remarks on. "This is new," Ban said before he began. Reporters asked if there would be an end-of-year press conference and were told, no. Some reporters have concluded that Mr. Ban is being mis-advised. An off-the-record briefing for major wire services was organized later on Thursday; another less select group may or may not be invited by Ban on December 21, when he is slated to be back from Bali. How will the coming two weeks be judged? Watch this site.

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Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

  Because a number of Inner City Press' UN sources go out of their way to express commitment to serving the poor, and while it should be unnecessary, Inner City Press is compelled to conclude this installment in a necessarily-ongoing series by saluting the stated goals of the UN agencies and many of their staff. Keep those cards, letters and emails coming, and phone calls too, we apologize for any phone tag, but please continue trying, and keep the information flowing.

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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540