UNITED NATIONS – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday that a 15-year international effort to stem global warming has not halted the buildup of greenhouse gas emissions and governments must take “unprecedented action” to reverse the trend.
“Today, the time for doubt has passed,” Ban told delegates at a U.N. conference on climate change that brought together more than 80 heads of state, former Vice President Al Gore and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Ban organized Monday’s meeting to build political momentum for December negotiations in Bali, Indonesia, on a new treaty expected to impose deep cuts on emissions of heat-trapping gases by industrial powers.
Ban stressed the urgency of reaching agreement on a plan of action to replace the world’s principal climate accord, the Kyoto Protocol. The agreement, which the Bush administration opposes, expires at the end of 2012.
“Our goal must be nothing short of a real breakthrough,” Ban said. “Inaction now will prove the costliest action of all in the long term.”
Monday’s event brought together representatives from the world’s largest industrial polluters with envoys from some of the poorest and most vulnerable states.
President Bush, a fierce opponent of industrial emissions caps, agreed to discuss climate change at a dinner hosted by Ban on Monday. Bush has scheduled a meeting on Thursday and Friday in Washington with the world’s 16 “major emitters,” including China and India, to try to coordinate a common response to global warming.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the delegates Monday that the U.S. meetings would “support and help advance” the U.N. discussions. But Bush’s position appeared out of step with the spirit of an event that featured calls by Japanese and European political leaders for deep cuts in emissions.
Schwarzenegger said his state is following Europe’s example. “California is moving the United States beyond debate and doubt to action,” he said. “It is time we came together in a new international agreement that can be embraced by rich and poor nations alike.”