U. N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says abnormal weather — including violent storms, melting ice caps and drought — is now the new normal and threatens global security and the future.
Ban told a U.N. climate change meeting in Doha Tuesday that no one is immune to global warming, rich or poor. He called it a challenge for the entire human race, ways of life, and plans for the future.
Officials from close to 200 nations are meeting in Doha to consider extending the 1997 Kyoto Protocol reducing greenhouse gas emissions beyond its expiration at the end of the year. Ban wants to extend that agreement until a stronger deal can be negotiated and take effect in 2020.
The United States never ratified Kyoto, and other major economies, including Russia and Japan, have dropped out of the pact. They say it does not cover such growing economies and major polluters as China and India. Many scientists blame global warming and the dangers it poses on pollution from factories and cars. Others say it is part of natural weather patterns.
Ban urged countries to act decisively to tackle the growing crisis.
“Let us be under no illusion. This is a crisis. A threat to us all. Our economies. Our security. And the well-being of our children and those who will come after,” Ban said at the start of the high-level segment of the 18th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.
“The danger signs are all around,” he added, pointing to the unprecedented melting of ice caps, rising sea levels, and land degradation and drought in various parts of the world.
The two-week conference brings together the 195 parties of the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
Under the Protocol, 37 States – consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing the process of transition to a market economy – have legally binding emission limitation and reduction commitments.
The two-week conference ends Friday.
“The Kyoto Protocol remains the closest we have to a global, binding climate agreement,” said Ban. “It must continue. It is a foundation to build on. It has important institutions, including accounting and legal systems, and the framework that markets sorely need. Its continuation on 1 January 2013 would show that governments remain committed to a more robust climate regime.”
He also expected progress on long-term climate finance, and ensuring that the institutions set up in Cancun and Durban to support mitigation and adaptation by developing countries – including the Green Climate Fund and the Climate Technology Centre and Network – are fully equipped and effective.
Recent U.N.-led reports have pointed to the urgency of keeping global average temperatures from rising beyond an internationally agreed level of two degrees Celsius, beyond which climate change would have serious impacts.
“The gap can be bridged. But time is not on our side,” Ban warned.