* Figueres seeks more public pressure on global warming
* Says Doha deal to be modest step forward, short of needed
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent
DOHA, Nov 30 The United Nations said on Friday
greater urgency was needed to slow climate change and that even
success at current low-ambition talks among 200 nations in Doha
would delight no one.
The world economic slowdown has taken the spotlight off
global warming and no big nations at the Nov. 26-Dec. 7 talks in
Qatar have announced new measures to slow rising temperatures
and help avert projected floods, droughts, heatwaves and rising
"My call here is for all of us to act impatiently,"
Christiana Figueres, head of the U.N. Climate Change
Secretariat, told a news conference when asked about the low
expectations for Doha.
She urged everyone from the public to business leaders to
put pressure on governments. "I don't see perhaps as much public
interest, support for governments to take on more ambitious and
more courageous decisions," she said.
Doha is seeking to agree measures including a symbolic
extension of the U.N.'s existing Kyoto Protocol, which binds
rich nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions until end-2012.
"Ultimately (governments) do have to reach a politically
balanced package (in Doha) with which no one will be delighted
... fully recognising that what comes out of Doha is not at the
level of ambition that we need," she said.
Keeping Kyoto alive would be a step towards a global deal
that is meant to be agreed in 2015 and start up in 2020. It
would bind all nations to curb greenhouse gas emissions, mainly
from burning fossil fuels in power plants, factories and cars.
Figueres said governments were aware of a need for urgent
action but that they also had to reconcile national interests,
from OPEC nations worried about a shift from oil, to small
island states who want radical action to slow rising sea levels.
"That is where we have a gap," she said of thousands of
delegates meeting in a cavernous conference centre in Qatar
which has a giant metal sculpture of a spider as a centrepiece.
A deal on climate change is hard because it "affects all
sectors of the economy. It affects all parts of society," said
Artur Runge-Metzger, head of the European Commission delegation.
But he said advances had been made in the past decade; many
nations have set targets for cuts in emissions for 2020.
The problem for Kyoto is that Russia, Japan and Canada have
pulled out, meaning that Kyoto backers are down to a core led by
the European Union and Australia that account for less than 15
percent of world emissions.
They, and developing nations led by China and India, see
Kyoto as a valuable model and a sign that the rich who have
emitted most greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution
are willing to lead towards a new global pact.
The drop-outs say it is meaningless to extend Kyoto when big
emerging countries have no curbs on rising emissions. The United
States never ratified Kyoto, for similar reasons.
Figueres said that governments were working for a deal in
Doha. "All governments remain committed to doing the hard work
that needs to be done by the end of next week," she said.
Earlier on Friday, a scientific scorecard rated major
nations' policies as inadequate to limit temperature rises to an
agreed ceiling of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) above pre-industrial
The Climate Action Tracker report said a toughening of
policies was still possible to keep below the ceiling, widely
seen as a threshold to dangerous changes.
Major emitters China, the United States, the European Union
and Russia all got "inadequate" ratings for their plans to help
limit global warming. It said all of them were on target to
achieve their pledges, except the United States.
Adding up all national pledges and taking account of rising
emissions, the world was headed for a warming of about 3.3
degrees Celsius (6F), it said.