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Figueres to run U.N. climate talks

By Juliet Eilperin

When it came to picking someone Monday to run the United Nation's climate talks, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon chose the woman who has pledged to bridge the divide between the industrialized and developing world: Christiana Figueres.

Figueres, a Costa Rican who is based in D.C. but has served as a member of the Costa Rican negotiating team at the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change since 1995, said in an interview that she sees the upcoming meeting in Cancun as "a golden opportunity for parties to begin to deliver on some of the key elements that are currently on the table as pledges," when it comes to an international climate deal. "That will definitely contribute to building a platform of trust that will be necessary to move forward with broader issues of the design of the regime."

In other words: talk first about money to help poor countries adapt to global warming, protect tropical forests and acquire clean energy technology, and then you can assemble a global pact with significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

Ban described Figueres as "an international leader on strategies to address global climate change and brings to this position a passion for the issue, deep knowledge of the stakeholders and valuable hands-on experience with the public sector, non-profit sector and private sector."

The decision won praise from a host of negotiating veterans, including Ned Helme, president of the Center for Clean Air Policy.

"Christiana Figueres is a great choice to head the UNFCCC," Helme said. "She is a uniter, an insider who knows the issues and the players and can restore trust, bridge the differences, and reenergize the international climate process."

The U.S. special envoy for climate change Todd Stern also welcomed her appointment, saying she "is well-qualified with a deep background in UN climate change negotiations. The United States looks forward to working with Ms. Figueres and partners around the world to build on the progress made in Copenhagen to meet the climate change challenge."

Like her predecessor Yvo de Boer, however, Figueres doesn't envision the world being able to ink a global climate treaty by the end of the year.

"My sense is that parties are focused on something else right now," she said. "My sense that parties are shifting their focus for this year to be willing to prove the deliverability of their pledges, and that will be the focus of this year."


Juliet Eilperin

 |  May 17, 2010; 11:03 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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