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Secretary-General issues strong call for action to combat climate change

Secretary-General issues strong call for action to combat climate change

Forests store CO2 helping alleviate climate change
Warning that failure to act on climate change will have grave consequences for all countries, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today in San Francisco called for urgent international action to address the problem within the framework of the United Nations.

“I am not a scientist; I am not an economist, but if you ask any scientist or economist they will tell you the science is clear, the economics are clear,” he told a breakfast meeting with staff of the San Francisco Chronicle. “They say action should have been taken yesterday, but it may not be too late if we take it today.”

Mr. Ban said the international community has reached “almost the saturation point” on the issue, which the UN “takes very seriously.”

The Secretary-General emphasized the toll that climate change is taking on developing countries, pointing out that they do not have the resources to cope that are available in developed States. “It is ironic that those people who have least [contributed] to this cause will have the brunt of serious responsibility [for its consequences],” he said, declaring: “The industrialized countries must help.”

Mr. Ban laid out a clear timetable for action. The intergovernmental process includes a meeting of the General Assembly next week as well as the holding of a high-level meeting Mr. Ban will convene in New York on 24 September. Negotiations will begin in December in Bali.

The Kyoto Protocol, the international community's current framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, will expire in 2012, and Mr. Ban said a successor pact must be ready for ratification three years before that date to allow countries to make it law in time.

Asked about the role of the United States, Mr. Ban said he had a “very good meeting” on the issue 10 days ago with President George W. Bush, who “now realizes the seriousness” of the problem.

US leadership on climate change will be “very important,” said Mr. Ban. The status quo “cannot be an option” for the US, which should, “look beyond its national situation.”

All industrialized countries must show leadership on the issue, he said. “They should think about the future, not the present situation”