President joins world leaders in calling for emissions cuts
UN: World leaders including President Mahinda Rajapaksa raised their
voices against global warming at the first UN Summit on Climate Change
on Monday, warning that the world would face a bleak future if
greenhouse emissions are not cut.
President Rajapaksa was among the 80 Heads of State and Government
who attended the one-day session formally titled "Future in Our Hands:
Addressing the Leadership Challenge of Climate Change".
Another 70 countries were represented at ministerial level.
The President's speech which drew the attention of the world to the
importance of financing the response to climate change as an investment
for tomorrow struck a chord with the other leaders, many of whom pointed
out the importance of investing in technologies and methodologies that
cut drastically greenhouse gas emissions.
Many leaders from the developing world stressed the importance of the
developed world taking initiatives to cut emissions. A number of
industrialised countries including the United States have not endorsed
the Kyoto Protocol which aims to take the world in that direction.
President George W. Bush is hosting a separate climate change forum on
Thursday in Washington.
California's environmentalist governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger echoed
the developing world's sentiments when he called for "action, action,
action," on climate change.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon set the tone in his opening address,
declaring that "the time for doubt has passed" on the issue of global
warming. He said world leaders showed a "major political commitment" to
achieve success in the global talks.
The UN chief described the UN "the only forum" where the issues can
be decided. The chief UN climate scientist, Rajendra Pachauri told the
summit of the evidence of global warming's impact, including the
accelerating rise in sea levels as oceans. "The time is up for
inaction," he declared.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the summit that the
16-nation Washington Summit would "support and help advance the on going
U.N. discussion." Former Vice President Al Gore, a leading climate
campaigner, portrayed a dire picture of changes already under way
because of global warming, including last week's scientific report that
the Arctic ice cap this summer shrank to a record-small size.
He proposed that Heads of State meet every three months beginning in
2008 to ensure the world is doing all it can to end the threat.
The UN Climate Change Summit is widely seen as a precursor to
December's annual climate treaty conference in Bali, Indonesia, when
Europe, Japan and many developing countries hope to initiate talks for
an emissions-reduction agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol in 2012.
The 175-nation Kyoto Pact, which the US (the biggest producer of
greenhouse gases) rejects, requires 36 industrial nations to reduce
carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases. It set an average target
of a 5 per cent cut below 1990 levels by 2012 for emissions from power
plants and other industrial, agricultural and transport sources.