U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has
urged the United States to take the lead in the search for a global
response to climate change. VOA's correspondent at the United Nations,
Peter Heinlein, reports the secretary-general described global warming as
a threat at least as great as war.
Mr. Ban praised
America's role in developing innovative technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Speaking to a group of students Thursday at U.N. headquarters, the
secretary-general noted that, while Washington has not signed the Kyoto
Protocol on climate change, discussions in the Bush administration and
Congress have raised public awareness about global warming.
Answering a student's question, Mr. Ban expressed hope that the United
States, the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, would also take the
political lead in searching for a successor to the Kyoto treaty, which
expires in 2012.
He said, "I hope that the United States, while they have taken their
role in innovative technologies, as well as promote cleaner energies, will
also take lead in these very important and urgent issues which [the]
international community must look for beyond Kyoto Protocol for the common
prosperity of the human being in the future."
In his speech to the students, Mr. Ban described himself as a child of
the Korean War, and recalled his youth in South Korea under the constant
threat of a nuclear winter. But he said the environmental threat facing
the globe today is just as serious.
"Today, war continues to threaten countless men, women and children
across the globe," he said. "It is the source of untold suffering and
loss. And the majority of the U.N.'s work still focuses on preventing and
ending conflict. But the danger posed by war to all of humanity - and our
planet - is at least matched by the climate crisis and global warming."
The U.N. chief said the world needs "a more coherent system of
international environmental governance" to meet the challenge. He pointed
to the world body as the natural choice for creating such a system.
"These issues transcend borders," he said. "That is why protecting the
world's environment is largely beyond the capacity of individual
"Only concerted and coordinated international action - supported and
sustained by individual initiative - will be sufficient. The natural arena
for such action is the United Nations," he continued.
The chief U.S. climate negotiator this week said the United States
remains committed to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Negotiator Harlan Watson said even though the United States has not
signed the Kyoto Protocol to the Framework agreement, and even though
emerging economic giants such as India and China are exempt from its
requirements, all three are working to cut harmful carbon emissions.
Watson defended the Bush administration's decision to stay out of the
Kyoto regime, arguing that its requirements would cost an estimated $400
million a year and result in the loss of nearly five million U.S. jobs.