UN Climate Chief Decries Lack of Leadership on Global Warming

January 10, 2007

By Jenny Barchfield (AP)

The chief of the United Nations’ effort against climate change said Monday there is widespread recognition of the seriousness of global warming but a lack of leadership has created a sense of helplessness.

Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, said he will ask the new U.N. secretary-general to coordinate a worldwide response and organize a conference of world leaders.

“Just opening a newspaper” shows evidence of this sea change in people’s attitudes toward climate change, de Boer told The Associated Press during a visit to Paris, where he was attending a conference on illegal logging. He noted that global warming has become a key campaign issue in elections from Australia to Canada.

“The thing that worries me is this general sense of helplessness,” de Boer said in a telephone interview. “Everyone is calling for leadership-including me. But I think I’ve pinpointed the guy who can give it.”

De Boer was referring to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a South Korean diplomat who took the reins of the world body a week ago.

“We are at the stage where we need a mandate from the level of heads of state to get the climate change negotiations moving again,” de Boer said. “I think the secretary-general has the power to bring that about.”

A conference of world leaders would be a first step toward a post-Kyoto agreement on climate change, he said. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol requires 35 industrial nations to cut their production of globe-warming greenhouse gases by an average 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012, when the accord expires.

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