U.N. Official Wants World Summit on Global Warming
PARIS -- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon should call a meeting of heads of government to decide the next steps against global warming, the U.N. official responsible for tackling climate change said on Monday.
Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Secretariat (UNFCCC), told reporters there was not much time left to prepare a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. "The window of opportunity is closing," he said. De Boer said he hopes to meet Ban during a trip to New York next week.
The last annual U.N. meeting of about 100 environment ministers, in Nairobi in November, made scant progress on finding ways to widen the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol.
Several ideas have been floated for discussion recently, such as French President Jacques Chirac's plan, unveiled last week, for a conference to promote a tax on imports from states that refuse to join Kyoto's successor.
"I'm wondering how all these initiatives are going to contribute to a global negotiating process," de Boer said.
"I'm really hoping that the new Secretary General will feel he's in a position to show the kind of leadership the world seems to be calling for," he added.
Kyoto obliges 35 developed nations to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12. But Kyoto nations account for only about one third of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Environment ministers involved in talks on Kyoto are often junior cabinet members and lack clout, and de Boer said the problems raised in talks on the environment were often economic in nature.
The United States, the world's biggest source of greenhouse gases, pulled out of Kyoto in 2001, saying it would cost U.S. jobs and wrongly excluded big developing nations such as China, India, South Africa and Brazil.
Those states will become major greenhouse gas emitters in the future but fear that curbing carbon emissions will hinder their drive to reduce poverty and promote growth, de Boer said. They should therefore be offered incentives, he added.
"I think it has to be at the level of the Secretary General that you bring heads of government together to try and flesh out these key principles and then to say to the technicians, to the professionals: 'okay, these are the lines of the playing field'", he said.
"I think that time is running out and that this year would be good because it would allow us sufficient time to negotiate something in a thorough way," he said.
The meeting could be a group of key nations rather than a large summit but it should include important developing states, de Boer added. (Additional reporting by Alister Doyle in Oslo)