U.N.'s Ban urges Olympic support for climate deal

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on world sports and Olympic officials on Saturday to lend support to a global climate deal which he called a “race against time.”

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon shows a ball made of plastic bags during his address to the 13th International Olympic Committee (IOC) Congress in Copenhagen October 3, 2009. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Promising to “sprint like an Olympian” himself to secure a climate deal among nations in December, Ban urged International Olympic Committee members and other sports leaders at a three-day Olympic Congress, to help reach that goal.

World leaders will meet in Copenhagen in December to try to make a deal on global greenhouse gas emissions to replace emissions provisions of the Kyoto Protocol expiring in 2012.

“The fight against climate change is in urgent need of your help,” Ban told the Olympic Congress at Copenhagen’s Bella Center where the climate conference will be held on December 7-18.

“This is the pre-eminent global challenge of our time,” Ban said a day after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded the 2016 Summer Games to Rio de Janeiro.

“We are all running a race against time,” he said.

Ban said he had “sounded the alarm from Antarctica to the Arctic Rim, from the dry plains of Africa to the steppes of Mongolia” to push for a global climate deal.

He noted that he had held a meeting of more than 100 heads of state and government in New York last month to press for a climate deal, but he said citizens’ efforts were also needed.

“I appeal to you to use your positions and your influence to do your part,” the South Korean secretary-general said.

Ban praised the IOC’s sport and environment agenda as an “effort in the right direction” and said the concept of Green Games had become a reality as shown by the 2008 Beijing Olympics use of renewable energy sources for more than a fifth of its need.

“I am pleased that Vancouver and London, next year and in 2012, are committed to greening the games they will host,” he told in a keynote address on the first day of the Olympic Congress, a rarely-held summit of IOC members and sports leaders.

Ban said he could hardly jog around the room without losing his breath.

“But when it comes to fighting for our shared global goals -- for a world that is cleaner, healthier, more peaceful and more prosperous -- I will sprint like an Olympian,” he said.

“I will ski the steepest trail,” he said. “I will run and run and never stop until we reach the finish line.”