Climate Chief Seeks UN Summit To Invigorate Global Warming Action
Paris (AFP) Jan 08, 2007
The top United Nations official on climate change said on Monday he would ask new UN boss Ban Ki-moon to show true leadership and host a summit to breathe life into sagging efforts to fight global warming. Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said he would make the pitch when he went to New York next week to meet the UN secretary general, who took office on January 1.
In an interview with journalists on the sidelines of a trip to Paris, de Boer said Ban's predecessor, Kofi Annan, "really only took serious interest in climate change in the last month of his tenure" by attending the UNFCCC talks in Nairobi in November.
"I'm really hoping that the new secretary general will feel that he's in a position to show the kind of leadership that the world seems to be calling for by using the convening power that he has," de Boer said.
"Time is running out," de Boer said, predicting that a new UN scientific report, due to be published on February 1, would add sharply to the public's demand for urgent action.
He said that as little as two more years remained for negotiating the next round of cuts under the UNFCCC's Kyoto Protocol, which seeks to limit the greenhouse-gas emissions that are driving global warming.
The Kyoto process, though, is long and unwieldy, hampered by the absence of the United States -- the world's biggest polluter -- and by reluctance by big developing countries such as Brazil, China and India to make promises on emissions controls that could hurt their economies and drive for prosperity.
"I think the world is beginning to lose confidence in the process," de Boer admitted.
"We insiders feel that these COPs (UNFCCC Conference of the Parties) are making progress, but if you ask the average man or woman in the street, they don't.
"So I think there's a risk. The longer it takes, there's a risk that the process begins to lose credibility. If the process loses credibility people will look elsewhere."
De Boer said he hoped Ban would seize the moment to stage a summit on climate change in which heads of state or government would declare their position on a small number of key principles.
These principles should acknowledge that climate change is a global problem that requires a global response and that this includes participation by countries that are going to be major emitters in the future.
The principles should also recognise the worries of these countries about action that could prejudice their rise out of poverty and offer them incentives to avoid pollution, and also enshrine a commitment to market forces to optimise clean-technology investment.
By having such a narrowly-defined and pro-market agenda, the summit would not alienate the United States, de Boer said, adding that Washington remained an enthusiastic member of the UNFCCC even if it was not part of Kyoto.
Under President George W. Bush, Washington is pushing a voluntary, technology-based approach for reducing the pollution.
The summit would also clear away detritus encumbering the Kyoto talks, the next of which are due to take place in Bali, Indonesia, between December 3-14 this year, de Boer hoped.
Those talks are vital for determining whether the hard-won Kyoto process will die when its present commitment period runs out at the end of 2012, or whether it can be widened and deepened.
At present, Kyoto falls far short of what is needed to tackle carbon dioxide and other man-made pollution sources that are trapping the Sun's heat and remorselessly driving up Earth's surface temperature.
The upcoming report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -- the top UN scientific panel on global warming -- is expected to declare that climate change is already happening and that a number of dangerous amplifiers have been identified that could worsen the phenomenon if the temperature rises beyond a specific threshold.
Among the potential effects are shrinking polar ice, rising sea levels and extended droughts or floods, posing a threat to coastal dwellers and to poor countries that do not have the resources to adapt to climate shift.
Source: Agence France-Presse
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EU Presses US Before Launch Of Climate Plan
Washington (AFP) Jan 08, 2007
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso Monday challenged the United States to join Europe's battle against climate change, days before the bloc is due to adopt a landmark energy plan.
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