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UN’s Ban Sees Industry Advancing Climate Treaty in Rio

UN Climate Change Conference Exhibit
A Living Beehive exhibition at the UN's Climate Change Conference "COP17" on November 30, 2011 in Durban, South Africa. Envoys from more than 190 nations were trying to agree on a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol. Photographer: Michelly Rall/Getty Images

The United Nations will pursue partnerships with global industry leaders to help drive clean energy in Rio de Janeiro next month as governments struggle to find common ground on climate change, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said.

Corporate boards can implement sustainability policies faster than countries by committing to investments in renewable energy, clean water and poverty-eradication programs in a way that protects national economies, Ban said today at a lunch with reporters in New York.

More than 2,000 corporate executives are expected to attend the UN’s Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development that begins June 22, marking the 20th anniversary of the first global gathering in Rio de Janeiro that eventually spawned the Kyoto Protocol treaty to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

“There will be a number of agreements to come out of this meeting because there’s now a coordinated effort by companies and investors to focus on sustainability issues,” Robert Orr, assistant secretary general for policy planning, said today in an interview at the New York event. “That’s the biggest difference between Rio ’92 and Rio ’12.”

Envoys from more than 190 governments met in Durban, South Africa, in December and agreed to discuss replacing by 2020 the Kyoto Protocol, which sets emission targets only for developed states. They plan to sign a legal deal in 2015.

The UN talks seek to curtail greenhouse-gas emissions and limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since the industrial revolution.

“I’m going to establish an expanded partnership facility in the secretariat,” Ban said. “Because of this economic crisis, I think sustainable development is the answer. Green economies can address all of the global challenges.”

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