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Kofi Annan warns “no excuse for inaction” over climate change

Copenhagen, Denmark
Former UN Secretary-General says the task of constructing a post-Kyoto agreement cannot be left to politicians alone

Former UN Secretary-General says the task of constructing a post-Kyoto agreement cannot be left to politicians alone

Copenhagen, Denmark – In his opening address to the Global Editors’ Forum, Kofi Annan will today outline the scale and urgency of the climate challenge, and warn “there is no excuse for inaction” at the forthcoming UN Climate Change Conference in December.

Annan will say public understanding of the need for decisive action is running ahead of commitments by politicians.  He will urge the world’s media to mobilise public pressure and ensure that leaders reach a deal in Copenhagen which is ambitious, universal, and has climate justice at its heart.

Stating that fairness and justice are principles common to every continent and understood in every culture, Annan will set out that climate justice means:

• Developed economies must take historic responsibility for the accumulation of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.  While all countries need to take steps to reduce emissions, industrialised countries must take the lead in ensuring that global emissions peak by 2020 and commit themselves to reduce emissions by between 25 – 40 per cent by 2020.

• Action to tackle climate change does not come at the expense of trapping millions in abject poverty.  Countries which have done the least to cause climate change are those which are suffering and will suffer most from its impact.  An agreement at Copenhagen must establish a fund, of at least $100 billion a year, to support developing nations with the cost of adaptation and mitigation.

• Governments and business must put the future of the planet before short-term electoral interests or profits.  No country will escape the impact of climate change, directly or indirectly.  Leaders must focus on the consequences of failure at Copenhagen and on the lives of future generations.

Annan will say there is no doubt that the negotiations ahead of the Copenhagen summit at the end of the year will be complex and difficult.  It is the responsibility of us all to create the conditions where obstacles are overcome – and to ensure that the decisions taken are followed through.

The media, in particular, has a critical role to play.  Across their news, comment and business pages, they can use their voice to inform and educate their communities about the threats and opportunities of climate change, and keep up pressure on political leaders to attend the summit in Copenhagen in person.

Annan will say:  “Copenhagen is not the end but the necessary beginning of the changes we need to see.  Through our actions and our voices, we can create such a noise that our leaders will not be able to ignore us, nor dare to.”

Former UN Secretary-General says the task of constructing a post-Kyoto agreement cannot be left to politicians alone
Notes to Editors

• Kofi Annan was speaking at the opening of the 7th Global Editors’ Forum, ‘From Kyoto to Copenhagen’, held in Copenhagen on October 9 – 11, 2009.  The Forum, which is sponsored jointly by Project Syndicate and the Government of Denmark, will bring together editors from around the world to focus on the issues of climate change and energy security.

• As President of the Global Humanitarian Forum, Kofi Annan is currently heading the
‘Tck,Tck,Tck: Time for Climate Justice Campaign’ to apply pressure on world leaders to reach a just and ambitious deal at the UN Climate Change Conference in December 2009.  For more information please visit:

• Kofi Annan served two terms, from 1997 to 2006, as UN Secretary-General. In 2001,
Annan and the United Nations were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. Since
leaving the United Nations, Kofi Annan has established a Foundation through which he continues to provide leadership on critical global issues, particularly preserving and building peace and facilitating more equitable sharing of the benefits of globalization, by promoting poverty alleviation, good governance, human rights and the rule of law.  Please visit:


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