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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.
The U.S. 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.
Of the Washington meeting, Ban told reporters, "We welcome individual measures and initiatives by many countries, but all these measures and initiatives should fit into the (U.N.) process."
He said about 80 heads of state and government would be among the 154 participants at Monday's all-day climate discussion. It isn't designed as a negotiation, but to send "a strong political message at the leaders' level for the climate change negotiations in Bali meeting in December," Ban said, referring to the annual U.N. climate treaty conference.
Bush isn't listed among participants in the day's events, although the U.S. Mission to the United Nations said he will join in the summit dinner that evening.
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, 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 launch negotiations on a similar regime of mandatory cutbacks for the post-2012 period.
Bush has rejected Kyoto and signals no new readiness to accept such mandates. He complains that the 1997 agreement, under which European and other nations are reducing power plant and industrial emissions, would damage the U.S. economy and should have been imposed on China and other poorer nations that are exempt.
The meeting Bush 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. Some environmentalists accuse him of trying to subvert the U.N. treaty process with the separate talks.
"If President Bush's idea of initiating new, parallel talks between just a few countries is just an effort to derail these ongoing talks, then the other countries participating in the talks should not allow this to happen," said London-based biologist Saleemul Huq, a lead author of this year's U.N. climate studies.