Christiana Figueres: ‘No country doing enough on climate change’

UN climate change chief Christiana Figueres has urged greater global action on curbing carbon emissions, warning that no country is doing enough to tackle the threat of global warming.

Her comments came in the wake of President Barack Obama’s new climate pledges earlier this week as he promised new rules to cut emissions from US power plants and moves to support renewable energy.

While giving the Obama plan a cautious welcome, Figueres – who heads up the UN Climate Change Secretariat – argued that individual nations needed to do more on the issue of climate change.

Speaking to Reuters at a meeting of climate change activists in Istanbul, Figueres said: “Finally the United States is putting out a menu of very concrete measures. But I think the fact remains that compared to what the science demands … no country is doing enough.”

She proposed that the White House appoint an energy czar to coordinate reforms.

“I do think that an energy czar in the White House would be extraordinarily helpful,” she said. “There has to be someone at a high level in the White House that can actually coordinate all of this and ensure that it gets done.”

She added that it was critical the White House develop the capacity to measure the effects of the reforms.

“There has to be one central place where this is going to be quantified in order for the United States and the world to know what effort the United States is putting in.”

According to Figueres, countries are on track to agree in 2015 a policy framework to curb greenhouse gas emissions and better enable the poorest nations to adapt to climate change.

The UN is currently attempting to resolve disputes between rich and poor countries on sharing out the burden of curbing greenhouse gas emissions as part of a new UN deal, a successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

It is hoped an agreement will be signed in 2015 and come into force five years later.

“It very important over the next 18 months that there is enough political space opened in every country so that federal governments can actually take the decisions that they need to take,” Figueres maintained.

Maxine Perella

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