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Top UN envoy calls for an end of violence in Afghanistan

Special Representative Tom Koenigs, top United Nations envoy in Afghanistan, has called for a total cessation of violence in the country on September 21–the International Day of Peace.

“In Afghanistan, we all know about conflict and insecurity,” Koenigs said. “But what we have seen in these past weeks is that Afghanistan wants peace.”

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UN Dispatch Focus on Energy

In the weeks leading up to the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Event on Climate Change on September 24, UN Dispatch will host a series of commentaries on a range of issues related to energy and climate change — for example, the challenge of sustainable energy production, combating climate catastrophe through adaptation, or financing climate change mitigation.

The first contribution, a post on a seminal energy efficiency report by UNF Climate Change expert Richard Moss is up in the Delegates Lounge to the right. A link to this series is available in the “Features” section on the left.

Please stop by regularly, use our Email feature to send posts to your friends and colleagues, and sign up for our weekly updates. And, over the course of the month, if a particular post strikes a chord with you or you have an insight on climate change or energy in general, email us and participate in the discussion.

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Efficiency Report Offers New Solutions to Energy Challenges

By Richard Moss, Senior Director, Climate Change, United Nations Foundation

Energy efficiency is the single most promising strategy for getting the global community on track to tackle the climate change crisis. Energy efficiency is the cheapest, cleanest, and most readily available energy resource. Reducing the amount of energy used to produce goods and services not only addresses climate change, it also reduces dependence on oil supplies from unstable regions such as the Middle East, and saves money too. Aggressively exploiting global energy efficiency resources will allow for sustainable sustainable growth that avoids further damage to the climate system.

By working together, the countries of the G8 and the +5 can achieve ambitious 2.5 percent annual improvements in efficiency that meet much of their energy demands in the cleanest and cheapest way possible. If extended to other major emitters–such as the “major emitters” (G8 and major emerging economies) invited to President Bush’s meeting in Washington from September 27-28–improving energy efficiency at this global average rate would also keep atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide below 550 parts per million. This is the finding of “Realizing the Potential of Energy Efficiency: Targets, Policies, and Measures for G8 Countries,” a report released by the United Nations Foundation that represents the views of a distinguished group of over 20 energy efficiency experts from around the world and across many economic sectors known as the Expert Group.

The Expert Group calls for a “pledge and review” framework to drive energy efficiency improvements. First, the G8+5 countries should commit to a collective goal to double energy efficiency improvements to 2.5 percent per year. Second, participating countries should formulate individualized national strategies. Each nation will enact cost effective policies from a menu of proven options, recognizing that some countries have more improvement opportunities than others. International coordination between the G8 countries and the major developing nations of the +5 is critical. An annual high-level “summit” consisting of the G8+5 countries will be convened to maintain momentum, with supporting work groups to facilitate technical cooperation amongst states. Finally, the Expert Group suggests a menu of proven policy options for national policymakers to improve energy efficiency in the transportation, buildings, appliance, and industrial sectors as well as options that cut across the economy and provide guidance for coordinating efforts between the G8 and the +5.

The response to the report has been very positive thus far. The Japanese government, which will preside over the G8 this year, has expressed interest in using the report to guide and inform its efforts to push efficiency to the top of the G8 agenda.

The Expert Group and the United Nations Foundation are now planning how to best facilitate the implementation of the recommendations in the report. There is a great deal of value in promoting greater international coordination of existing and future efficiency efforts. To that end, a “progress report” will be created for major nations and countries to provide a set of comparable, internationally accepted performance metrics and to identify ways existing initiatives can be better integrated.

The full report can be viewed at www.unfoundation.org/energyefficiency.

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New Blogging Heads

In the newest installment of Blogging Heads TV, Matthew Lee and I discuss the thorny issue of Taiwan’s UN aspirations, John Bolton’s recent speech at the Heritage Foundation, UN ethics reforms, the new EU-led refugee protection force in Chad and CAR, the forthcoming General Assembly meeting, Ban’s climate change bonafides, and of course, the discovery of cleaning product in UNMOVIC’s storage facility. Enjoy!

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Ban Ki-moon speaks out on Darfur

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on all parties to the conflict in Darfur to create a climate conducive to peace negotiations.

In a statement released in the Libyan capital, where Mr. Ban is wrapping up a three-nation trip that also took him to Sudan and Chad, the Secretary-General set out a series of measures required to address the conflict that has engulfed Darfur since 2003, killing over 200,000 people and driving an additional 2.2 million from their homes.

Ban urged all parties “to declare their serious commitment to achieve a political solution to the Darfur crisis; to create a security environment in Darfur conducive to negotiations; to participate in and commit to the outcome of the negotiation effort; and to cease all hostilities immediately.”

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Bolton at Heritage

American Enterprise Institute senior fellow John Bolton gave the “Margaret Thatcher Freedom Lecture” at the Heritage Institute yesterday. He’s about to publish a book, Surrender is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad and his speech focused mostly on the question of whether or not the UN advances the cause of freedom. His answer? “minimally, occasionally, and accidentally.” You can watch the webcast here.

Bolton’s argument is familiar to anyone who has read or listened to his speeches since he left public service (and occasionally, while still in government.) Essentially, Bolton argues that the UN Secretariat lacks a basic legitimacy because the Secretariat does not take marching orders from the member states that pay the bulk of UN operating expenses.

On the contrary, the legitimacy engendered to the UN comes precisely from the fact that it does not work exclusively for any one member state or group of states. Rather, the UN derives its legitimacy because 180 member states belong to it–and at least in the General Assembly one country has one vote. Things are a bit different in the Security Council. But even there, a Security Council resolution means that the world’s powers have coalesced around a single unifying principle. When the UN Security Council votes to authorize the use of force (say for example for the 1991 Gulf War) that sort of operation is viewed with overwhelming credibility and therefore is much easier to mount.

Bolton made other points, many of which we have addressed previously on UN Dispatch, such as the dangerous notion that the UN should be funded through voluntary contributions rather than assessed dues. Finally, perhaps the most newsworthy moment of the lecture was when Bolton, in the midst of trashing his former colleagues at the State Department, quipped that “North Korea is more likely to get full diplomatic credentials than Taiwan.”

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