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UN agency pressures Ban on climate crisis summit

Source:  Copyright 2007, Reuters
Date:  January 30, 2007
Byline:  Daniel Wallis
Original URL: Status DEAD


The U.N. environment agency pressured Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday to call an emergency climate summit amid dire reports about the risks from global warming.

A summit, tentatively planned for September, would focus on the hunt for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol on cutting greenhouse gases widely blamed for forecasts of more heatwaves, floods, droughts and rising sea levels.

U.N. environment agencies are lobbying Ban to play a leading role in helping governments battle climate change after Kyoto expires in 2012. But he has yet to endorse his officials' proposal for a summit of about 20 key world leaders.

On Tuesday, he was to discuss the plans in Nairobi with Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP). Earlier this month Ban also met Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Secretariat.

"This is a critical year and we must bring developed and developing countries together towards a conclusion," said Steiner's spokesman Nick Nuttall.

On Friday, the broadest scientific study of the human effect on the climate is set to conclude there is at least a 90 percent chance that human activities, mainly burning fossil fuels, are to blame for most of the warming in the last 50 years.

In a previous report in 2001, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the link was at least 66 percent certain. IPCC experts are meeting in Paris to discuss and approve the draft report.

The report is also set to warn that average global temperatures will rise to 2.0 to 4.5 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 8.1 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by 2100, with a "best estimate" of a 3.0 C (5.4 F) rise, scientists say.

Another section of the report, due in April, is expected to warn that between 1.1 and 3.2 billion people will face water shortages by the end of the century and hundreds of millions will go hungry, according to Australia's The Age newspaper.

Coastal flooding will hit another 7 million homes.

"HAVE TO MOVE NOW"

"It is now absolutely clear that we have to move together and we have to move now," UNEP's Nuttall said.

De Boer has said the new secretary-general would be in an excellent position to help step up action on climate change, but would first have to assess whether he had enough political support to fulfil the role.

Under Kyoto, 35 industrial nations agreed to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.

Washington pulled out in 2001, arguing it cost jobs and wrongly excluded poorer nations. U.S. President George W. Bush last week called climate change a "serious challenge".

The biggest challenge of the post-Kyoto era is to entice non-participants like the United States, China, India, South Africa and Brazil to join to make the process more effective.

The last annual U.N. meeting of about 100 environment ministers in Nairobi in November made little progress on finding ways to broaden the protocol after it runs out.

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