UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres Discusses the Good News About Climate Change
On September 27th, 2013, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) delivered a lecture at the Harvard Kennedy School about “The Good News on Climate Change.” In her introduction she first explained the nature of climate change as a complex problem, calling for new approaches and efforts towards its solution. She also acknowledged the relevance of the recent Assessment Report (AR5) published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The AR5, Figueres explained, not only reinforces the urgency of climate change action but calls upon individuals and institutions to face the climate issue not as a burden but as an opportunity.
According to the Executive Secretary, although the circumstances of climate change are worrisome, they open immense opportunities for future low-carbon and high resilient development. At the levels of public policy, corporate strategy, and technology development, actors are developing multiple mechanisms to advance in the adaptation and mitigation of climate change effects. What the international community and societies need is to imagine and implement a new future of energy efficiency, green transportation and architecture, and sustainable businesses and practices. Governments are committed to take measures on mitigating carbon-emissions. In 2015, the countries are expected to pass a global climate agreement which will be applicable to all countries. More than thirty countries already have comprehensive legislation on climate-change, and more than 100 countries have renewable energy plans. Business more and more realizes that future competitiveness and sustainable growth will depend on having a low carbon footprint and reduced GHG emissions.
Christiana Figueres further explained her optimism for actions on climate change by individual countries’ actions: “An oil-exporting country, Saudi Arabia, emerges as a number one leader in developing and application of clean energy technologies.” Furthermore, her optimism for climate change action is mainly focused on students, who, she said, “will become government, business and community leaders and will have to apply the knowledge they acquire now to such a complicated issue as climate change.” Christiana Figueres also spoke on the issue of insufficient funding of the initiatives of developing countries in the area of climate change mitigation and adaptation. She believes that developed countries should help other developing countries to fund infrastructure for clean energy development and use. Programs of bilateral support, assistance from private and multilateral banks, and other private sources of funding can help developing countries not only to move closer to clean energy but also to eradicate poverty.