x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

UN chief: Time to stop climate finger-pointing

Ban Ki-moon says rich and poor countries must stop arguing and increase their pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

COPENHAGEN // Rich and poor countries must "stop pointing fingers" and increase their pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions to salvage the faltering talks on a global warming pact, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today. Mr Ban's warning came as world leaders started arriving in Copenhagen, kicking the two-week conference into high gear in its quest to deliver a deal to curb emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

The Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe was among the first heads of state to touch down in the Danish capital, avoiding a travel ban imposed by Western nations because he was attending a UN conference. Mr Mugabe was to address the conference on Wednesday. The British prime minister Gordon Brown was also expected later today - coming to Copenhagen a day earlier than planned to help push the talks forward.

Mr Ban told reporters he remained cautiously optimistic of a successful outcome, but warned that negotiators on both sides must work out their differences and not leave it to world leaders to resolve the treaty's major problems. "This is a time where they should exercise the leadership," Mr Ban said. "And this is a time to stop pointing fingers, and this is a time to start looking in the mirror and offering what they can do more, both the developed and the developing countries."

Talks on a global climate deal hit a snag yesterday when developing countries temporarily boycotted the negotiations, fearing industrial countries were back-pedalling in their promises to cut greenhouse gases. The negotiations later resumed but deep divisions remain between rich and poor countries over emissions targets and financing for developing countries to deal with global warming. Speaking to reporters at a hotel in Copenhagen, Mr Ban said if negotiators cannot resolve those problems before more than 110 world leaders start to arrive "the outcome will be either a weak one, or there will be no agreement".

"This will be a serious mistake on the part of the negotiators and the leaders if they go back empty-handed," he said. The former US vice president Al Gore today told the conference that new data suggests a 75 per cent chance the entire Arctic polar ice cap may disappear in the summertime as soon as five to seven years from now. Scientists said global warming will create rising sea levels, increasing drought, more extreme weather and the extinction of some species.

* AP