26th May, 2009
COPENHAGEN :Former US vice president turned climate campaigner Al Gore warned business and political leaders Sunday that the world was running out of time to reach a deal on how to fight global warming.
“It’s time to act now… We have to do it this year, not next year,” Gore told the World Business Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen. “The clock is ticking because Mother Nature does not do bailouts.”
“To save the future, we have everything we need except the political will,” the Nobel Peace laureate said in his keynote address at the meeting of business leaders, academics and politicians.
The summit organisers, the think-tank Mandag Morgen, want to raise awareness of environmental issues before the Danish capital hosts the United Nations’ crucial Climate Change Conference later this year.
“The business community and the leaders of the world must go together to safeguard the world,” Gore told delegates.
The United Nations hopes to get a new global warming treaty approved to replace the Kyoto Protocol on cutting carbon emissions that expires in 2012.
Around 300 people took part in an anti-capitalist protest outside the summit venue, said police spokesman Flemming Steen Munch, adding that some 40 youths were arrested for breaching the security barrier.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon opened the summit calling on big business to do more to shape a greener economy.
“I want to see you in the vanguard of an unprecedented effort to retool the global economy into one that is cleaner, greener and more sustainable,” he said.
“We must harness the necessary political will to seal the deal on an ambitious new climate agreement in December,” added Ban, who arrived earlier Sunday from war-torn Sri Lanka where he had been on a two-day visit.
Executives from leading companies such as Intel Corporation, BP and Siemens are meeting at the three-day World Business Summit to discuss ways companies can help reduce greenhouse gases without hampering economic growth.
The meeting, which runs through Tuesday, also aims to encourage businesses to invest in green technology and promote more efficient use of energy resources.
While the UN hopes to build on agreements struck under the Kyoto treaty, the European Union has already said it will slash emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and raise the target to 30 percent if others set similarly ambitious targets.
Former US president George W. Bush refused to sign up to the Kyoto treaty over fears it would harm his country’s economy.
But his successor, President Barack Obama, has vowed that the United States would now take a leading role in the battle against global warming.
Lawmakers in the US Congress opened debate last week on a “clean energy” bill that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and create “green” jobs.
Last week former US president Bill Clinton called for more commitment and concrete action on climate change.
“You do not have the luxury of just debating what we are going to do and how much money we are going to spend on it,” Clinton told a conference in Seoul, South Korea.
He warned that if the world fails to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, it would pay a high price in food shortages, drought and public health dangers.