From: Reuters
Published December 11, 2008 08:38 AM

World must avoid backsliding in climate fight: U.N.

By Gabriela Baczynska and Anna Mudeva

POZNAN, Poland (Reuters) - The world must avoid backsliding in the fight against global warming and work out a "Green New Deal" to fix twin climate and economic crises, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday.

"We must re-commit ourselves to the urgency of our cause," Ban told about 100 environment ministers at December 1-12 U.N. talks in Poland working on a new climate treaty but overshadowed by worries about recession.

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"Yes, the economic crisis is serious," he said. "Yet when it comes to climate change, the stakes are far higher. The climate crisis affects our potential prosperity and peoples' lives, both now and far into the future."

"There can be no backsliding on our commitments to a future of low-carbon emissions," he said of efforts to shift from fossil fuels toward renewable energies.

Ban urged leadership on the climate from President-elect Barack Obamaand from the European Union, which is holding a summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday trying to break deadlock on a plan to axe greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

Ban also urged what he called a "Green New Deal" inspired by the 1930s "New Deal" by U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, which ended the 1930s depression.

He said coping with the financial crisis would need a "massive stimulus." "A big part of that spending should be an investment -- an investment in a green future," he said.

"We need a Green New Deal," he said of a package that would solve the economic and climate crises. The U.N. Climate Panel says greenhouse gases, mainly from burning fossil fuels, will cause more floods, droughts, heatwaves and rising seas.

The Poznan talks are reviewing progress at the halfway mark of a two-year push to work out a global pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, the U.N. pact binding 37 nations to curb emissions by about 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-2012.

LEADERSHIP

Ban said he was encouraged by Obama's promises to do more to combat climate change.

And he said decisions at the EU summit in Brussels were "of great consequence for the whole world." The EU is seeking to overcome objections to a plan to cut emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

Developing nations, such as China and India, say recession is no excuse for the rich to delay fighting climate change.

"If Europe sends a signal that it can make deep cuts only in the prosperous times, what are the developing countries supposed to say?" Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo told delegates.

In Poznan, details of a new fund to help poor countries adapt to the impacts of rising seas, droughts, floods and heatwaves are among the most contentious remaining issues.

Tuvalu's Prime Minister Apisai Ielemia, whose Pacific island nation is threatened by rising sea, accused some industrialized nations of "burying us in red tape" to deny access to cash in the Adaptation Fund.

The fund could reach about $300 million a year by 2012 to help build coastal defenses or develop drought-resistant crops.

"We are not contemplating migration ... we will survive," Ielemia said to applause from delegates.

Among agreements, Poznan set a timetable for work next year, including three preparatory meetings before Copenhagen, where the new deal is due to be struck in December.

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said the decisions meant that backers of Kyoto would have to set goals for emissions cuts beyond 2012 by end-March. "There is a deadline for countries to put their cards on the table," he said.

(Editing by Katie Nguyen)

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