The chief of the United Nations’ effort against climate change said this week 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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