U.N. Secretary-General Urges Action Against Global Warming

The science is clear and the time short, but the political will is lacking to confront global warming, the U.N. secretary-general said Tuesday.

Ban Ki-moon said he hoped next Monday's "climate summit" here will help galvanize leaders to take action "before it is too late."

Asked at a news conference about President Bush's planned separate meeting to discuss global-warming measures among a handful of countries later next week, the U.N. chief said Bush assured him it would be coordinated with the established U.N. process of negotiating climate treaty commitments among all nations.

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The Bush administration rejects treaty obligations, such as the Kyoto Protocol, to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. Bush favors voluntary reductions instead.

"All the measures and initiatives should fit into the [U.N.] process," Ban told reporters.

He said about 80 heads of state and government, including Bush, would attend Monday's all-day climate discussion.

It is not designed as a negotiation, but rather to produce some political momentum for negotiations to take place in December in Bali, Indonesia, at the annual U.N. climate treaty conference.

In a series of major reports this year, a U.N.-sponsored scientific network said unabated global warming, potentially raising average temperatures by several degrees Fahrenheit, would produce a far different planet by 2100 — from rising seas, drought and other factors.

The scientists said animal and plant life was already being disrupted.

"The science has made it quite clear, and we have been feeling the impacts of global warming already clearly," Ban said. "We have resources. We have technology. The only [thing] lacking is political will. Before it is too late, we must take action."

The Kyoto Protocol, a 1997 annex to a 1992 U.N. climate treaty, requires 35 industrialized nations to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by, on average, 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

Talks at Bali are intended to initiate negotiations on a similar regime of mandatory cutbacks for after 2012.

Bush has rejected Kyoto and has signaled no new readiness to accept such mandates.

The meeting he has called for Sept. 27-28 in Washington, involving major industrial nations and a few developing countries, including China and India, is expected to focus on "goals," not obligations, for reducing climate-altering emissions.