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September 4, 2009

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Ban: Climate change action too slow

UNITED Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for swifter work on a new climate treaty to fend off what he said could be economic disaster with a surge in sea levels of up to 2 meters by 2100.
"We will pay a high price if we do not act," he told a climate conference in Geneva yesterday.
"Climate change could spell widespread economic disaster," Ban said. "By the end of this century, sea levels may rise between half a meter and 2 meters."
That would threaten small island states, river deltas and cities such as Tokyo, New Orleans or Shanghai, he said.
His sea level projection is above the range of 18 to 59 centimeters given in 2007 by the UN's own panel of experts. Their estimates did not include the possibility of an accelerated melt of vast ice in Antarctica or Greenland.
He said greenhouse gas emissions were still rising fast despite promises to rein in growth. "Our foot is stuck on the accelerator and we are heading towards an abyss," he said.
"We cannot afford limited progress. We need rapid progress" in the climate negotiations, he said at the meeting to discuss a new United Nations deal to combat global warming that is due to be agreed in December in Copenhagen.
He said he had seen the impact of change on a trip this week to see thinning Arctic sea ice off Norway.
Ban said he hoped a summit of world leaders he will host in New York on September 22 would give a new push toward Copenhagen.
"Political support for climate action is growing. But still not fast enough," he told an audience including about 20 leaders, mostly of developing nations such as Tanzania, Bangladesh and Mozambique, and ministers from up to 80 nations.
Leaders of developing nations urged more aid and green technologies.
Africa suffering
Ethiopia's President Girma Woldegiorgise said African nations were suffering from climate change even though they had done almost nothing to cause the problem, blamed mainly on greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels.
In the Copenhagen talks, developing nations want industrialized nations to promise deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions for 2020 and come up with more aid. But rich nations want clearer promises from the poor that they will also act.
The Geneva conference formally approved a goal of a new system to improve monitoring and information of the climate to help everyone from farmers to energy investors.
Delegates said a "Global Framework for Climate Services" would help the world adapt to changes such as more floods, wildfires, droughts, rising seas or more disease.


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