Pointing to the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy and other weather disasters this year, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told an international climate conference on Tuesday that it was time to “prove wrong” those who still have doubts about global warming.
Ban, addressing delegates at the annual UN climate talks, said time is running out for Governments to act, citing recent reports showing rising emissions of greenhouse gases, which most scientists say are causing the warming trend.
“The abnormal is the new normal,” Ban told environment ministers and climate officials from nearly 200 countries.
“This year we have seen Manhattan and Beijing under water, hundreds of thousands of people washed from their homes in Colombia, Peru, the Philippines, Australia.”
“The danger signs are all around,” he said, noting that ice caps are melting, permafrost thawing and sea levels rising.
Delegates at the two-week talks that are set to end Friday are discussing future emissions cuts and climate aid to poor countries, issues that rich nations and the developing world have struggled to agree on for years.
In Doha, developing countries have criticised richer nations for not promising higher emissions cuts and not giving any firm commitments on how they plan to scale up climate aid to $100 billion by 2020, a pledge they made three years ago.
Ban told reporters after his speech that richer countries, including the US, “should take leadership” on climate change because they have the resources and technology to address the problem.
On Tuesday, Britain announced two initiatives to support renewable energy in Africa and a water management programme that it said would help 18 million poor people become more resilient to climate change. The initiatives, totalling $214 million over the next three years, were welcomed by climate activists.
“At last, a developed country has finally made a pledge for future climate finance here in Doha,” Oxfam Climate Change Policy Advisor Tracy Carty said, but noted that the details remain “hazy.”