United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday the world was faced by a global warming “crisis” and urged bickering negotiators at climate talks in Doha to show “strong political commitment” and compromise.
Noting there were “mixed feelings” among delegates hammering out deals on curbing Earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions, the secretary general called for “urgency” from the nearly 200 nations represented.
“This is a crisis,” said Ban, as a string of scientific reports warned the world could be headed for calamitous warming way above the limit of two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) being targeted by the UN.
Climate change poses “a threat to us all. Our economies. Our security. And the well-being of our children and those who will come after,” said the UN chief.
About 100 ministers and a handful of heads of state gathered in Doha Tuesday for the final, high-level stretch of the talks marked so far by bickering over cash and commitments needed to ever-rising curb greenhouse gas emissions.
After more than a week of tough talks that run until late at night, observers say delegates remain far apart on issues vital for unlocking a global deal on climate change.
Poor countries insist that Western nations sign up to deeper, more urgent cuts in carbon emissions under a follow-up, second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol.
They also want the developed world to commit to new funding package from 2013 to help them cope with worsening drought, flood, storms and rising seas.
Ban urged the parties to “work with a spirit of compromise”, and cited superstorm Sandy, which struck the US east coast and the Caribbean last month, as a “call to action”.
A string of recent reports said climate change was happening before our eyes, with polar ice caps melting and sea levels rising faster than we thought at the same time as greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere reached new highs.
“The abnormal is the new normal,” Ban told the opening of the high-level section of the conference, citing droughts and floods plaguing countries around the globe.
“It is an existential challenge for the whole human race — our way of life, our plans for the future.”
The Doha negotiators, he said, must reaffirm their commitment to a follow-up for Kyoto, which runs out on December 31, to reaching a new, universally-binding climate pact for 2020, and to climate funding for the poor world.
The know-how and technology existed to close the growing gap between countries’ pledges for curbing emissions, and what is actually needed to limit warming to 2C, said Ban — what was lacking was political will.
“The gap can be bridged. But time is not on our side.”