Paris: French President Nicolas Sarkozy
on Thursday demanded reforms of the United Nations and urged
negotiations under a small group of countries to accelerate
efforts to fight climate change.
Sarkozy, opening a one-day conference on deforestation,
stood by the UN, saying there was "no alternative strategy" to
a forum that gave all nations, rich and poor, a voice in a
But he said changes to the UN were way overdue.
"The UN is absolutely indispensable and yet at the same
time, it's not working," said Sarkozy. "(...) I am certain
that we need to reform the United Nations, otherwise the
United Nations will end up in an impasse."
Reiterating previous ideas, Sarkozy proposed overhauling
the Security Council, widening the number of members and
apportioning seats on a regional basis.
But he reserved his main firepower for the flawed UN
process on climate change.
Sarkozy blasted the Copenhagen summit last December as
"an example of bad management."
Two years of talks failed to yield a hoped-for treaty on
tackling carbon emissions blamed for disrupting the climate
More than 120 heads of state or government, arriving for
the meeting's climax, were handed a draft text that Sarkozy
likened to "volapuk," an invented 19th-century language
translatable as "gobbledegook."
With fiasco looming, around two dozen countries haggled
through the final night to craft a compromise and submitted it
to the wider arena as a platform for action.
The so-called Copenhagen Accord would limit warming to
two degrees Celsius but does not detail when or how this goal
should be achieved nor commit signatories to binding pledges.
Sarkozy admitted the outcome was "frustrating" but argued
that the rapid progress yielded by a small group in the space
of a few concentrated hours was revealing.
It was time to ditch the format by which all issues are
negotiated simultaneously by all countries under the
192-nation UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),
where unanimous approval is essential, Sarkozy said.
"These working methods have to change... who can believe
that this can work?" he said, calling for a "representative"
group of countries to do the essential haggling.
This should be the template for a renewed attempt at
ministerial level in December, in the Mexican resort of
Cancun, to build a post-2012 climate pact, he said.
Sarkozy threw his weight behind the UN's beleaguered
climate scientists, under fire for flaws that have emerged in
a landmark 2007 report, saying the panel "has earned the right
to our gratitude."
"Climate change is a reality," he said.
The Paris conference gathered around 60 countries under a
French-Norwegian initiative on helping deforestation, a major
part of the climate-change problem.
First Published: Thursday, March 11, 2010, 21:16