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UN Chief Urges New Climate Change Deal By 2009

UN chief Ban Ki-moon. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
United Nations (AFP) Jul 31, 2007
UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday appealed to all countries to do their utmost to seal a new climate change deal by 2009 and have it in force by the time the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012. Addressing an informal General Assembly debate on the impact of climate change, Ban said: "All countries must do what they can to reach agreement by 2009, and to have it in force by the expiry of the current Kyoto protocol commitment period in 2012. We need a comprehensive agreement under the UNFCCC process that tackles climate change on all fronts, including adaptation, mitigation, clean technologies, deforestation and resource mobilization," he added.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the parent of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the landmark environmental treaty negotiated in Japan's ancient capital that mandates cuts in the gases blamed for global warming.

A conference on the Indonesian island of Bali in December is to thrash out a new treaty to limit greenhouse gases to take effect after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

Last month, Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations' Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), hailed a call by Group of Eight leaders at their summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, for conclusion of global talks in 2009 in order to have a post-2012 climate change regime in place.

Ban, who has made action to roll back global warming a priority since taking office in January, told the meeting: "We cannot go on this way for long. We cannot continue with business as usual. The time has come for decisive action on a global scale."

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported this year that the world's temperature rose by 0.74 degrees C during the last century and that it is likely to rise 3.0 degrees C in this century unless measures are taken to reduce the rate of warming.

The two-day informal debate, bringing together prominent scientists, business leaders and UN officials, aims to prepare the ground for a high-level meeting called by Ban for next month on the sidelines of the General Assembly and for the Bali conference in December.

It features interactive panel discussions with climate change experts and a plenary debate with statements on national strategies and international commitments by UN member states.

Participants include Food and Agriculture Organization Director General Jacques Diouf as well as Chile's former president Ricardo Lagos and South Korean former foreign minister Han Seung-soo -- both of whom were named last May as Ban's special envoys for climate change.

The debate is being touted as "carbon neutral," meaning that emissions from air travel to bring experts to New York and the entire carbon-dioxide emissions of the UN headquarters will be offset by investment in a biomass fuel project in Kenya.

The fuel switch project in Kenya supports the use of agricultural waste instead of traditional fossil fuels to power a crude palm oil refinery, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating new economic opportunities for local farmers.

"I hope this modest example will inspire similar initiatives in the future," said Haya Rashed al-Khalifa of Bahrain, the outgoing president of the General Assembly.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Climate Change Sucks Water From China's Two Longest Rivers
Beijing (Xinhua) Jul 27, 2007
Climate change linked to the contraction of wetlands at the source of China's two longest rivers, the Yangtze and the Yellow River, has reduced the volume of water flowing in the rivers, said Chinese scientists. Scientists from the Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) studied changes over the past 40 years to the wetlands on the cold Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in west China where the two rivers have their source.

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