NO LEADERSHIP TO STOP GLOBAL WARMING

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NO LEADERSHIP TO STOP GLOBAL WARMING

 user 2006-11-21 at 11:44:00 am Views: 57
  • #17192

    ‘Frightening Lack of Leadership’ for Global Warming
    NAIROBI,
    Kenya, Nov. 06 — Secretary General Kofi Annan on Wednesday put the
    blame for global warming on “a frightening lack of leadership,” saying
    the poorest people in the world, who do not even create much pollution,
    bear the brunt of rising temperatures.“The impact of climate change
    will fall disproportionately on the world’s poorest countries, many of
    them here in Africa,” Mr. Annan said in a speech to a major climate
    conference here. “Poor people already live on the front lines of
    pollution, disaster and the degradation of resources and land.“For
    them,” the United Nations leader said, “adaptation is a matter of sheer
    survival.”When pressed at a news conference afterward about his
    comments on poor leadership, Mr. Annan denied that he was singling out
    the United States, the world’s biggest source of the smokestack and
    tailpipe gases that are linked by most scientists to rising
    temperatures. The United States is also one of the few countries that
    has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol, the first treaty setting limits on
    the heat-trapping pollutants.“My speech was not directed at a
    particular individual or leader,” Mr. Annan said. “I just want leaders
    around the world to show courage, because this is one of the greatest
    challenges of our time.”Among other issues, negotiators at the climate
    conference are exploring how to set new emissions limits for the period
    after 2012, when Kyoto’s terms expire. Bush administration officials
    have said the United States has no plans to accept any binding
    limits.The delegation from the United States, meanwhile, denied that it
    was part of the leadership failure that Mr. Annan spoke about.Paula J.
    Dobriansky, the under secretary of state for democracy and global
    affairs, said Wednesday that “we think the United States has been
    leading in its groundbreaking initiatives.” She listed several
    measures, including financial incentives for businesses to reduce
    pollution and strict domestic rules that she said had helped in the
    fight against global warming.Each year thousands of environmental
    experts, government officials and activist groups gather for a nearly
    two-week-long conference on how to battle global warming.This year’s
    conference in Nairobi, partly because it has drawn so many Africans,
    has focused on the possibility that those least responsible for
    pollution-induced climate change may suffer the most from it. Africa,
    one of the least industrialized areas in the world, is a case in
    point.The herders of Kenya’s grassy plains, for example, whose total
    pollution basically boils down to their cooking fires and the few
    cigarettes they smoke, are being displaced by increasingly frequent
    droughts, which many scientists blame at least partly on global
    warming.Malaria, one of Africa’s leading killers, is spreading to
    higher altitudes because of rising temperatures. The Sahara is
    expanding, turning farmland into desert and contributing to conflicts
    like the one in the Darfur region of Sudan. And the list goes
    on.“Africa faces some of the fiercest effects of climate change,”
    Kenya’s president, Mwai Kibaki, said in a speech on Wednesday at the
    climate conference. He said warmer temperatures could destroy
    agriculture and tourism, two of Kenya’s brightest hopes for a way out
    of poverty.The emphasis on poor countries has led to another running
    theme at this year’s climate caucus: adaptation. Experts and
    politicians concede that so much carbon dioxide, one of the dominant
    heat-trapping gases, has already accumulated in the atmosphere that the
    world must accept global warming and figure out how to adapt to it.“For
    too long the international community focused almost exclusively on
    mitigation,” said Kivutha Kibwana, Kenya’s environmental minister, who
    is president of the conference. “Let Nairobi be the starting point
    whereby adaptation and mitigation efforts go hand in hand.”The
    conference has succeeded in establishing the broad outlines of an
    adaptation fund that calls for industrialized countries to help poor
    countries deal with the adverse effects of climate change through
    measures like relocating coastal people displaced by floods.Though the
    fund is still tiny, around $3 million, United Nations officials say
    that it will grow rapidly and that there is now a plan for how to
    manage it. Each country will get one vote, which will give the
    developing world a larger voice than that of industrialized
    nations.Still, much work remains, and the conference ends Friday. One
    bogged-down proposal is the effort to limit the average global
    temperature increase to 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit or so, which may not
    sound like much but would significantly change the environment. In the
    past century, average global temperatures have risen about 1
    degree.Even moderate projections of warming under current emissions
    trends foresee four or five times that temperature increase by 2100,
    accompanied by a substantial rise in sea levels and disruption of
    climate patterns and water supplies.Earlier this week, a group of
    island nations objected to the 3.5-degree ceiling, saying that even
    that would be too high for them to bear, because of all the
    flooding.Pusing such a tax to finance adaptation programs. The tax
    would serve the dual purpose of discouraging rich countries from
    polluting and helping poor countries deal with the consequences of
    pollution.“This is not a fight against nature,” Mr. Leuenberger said.
    “It is a battle against shortsighted egoism.”