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Kofi Annan Says Polluters Must Pay For Climate Change


Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is calling for united action to help the world's poorest people adapt to climate change. He says the poor, who have contributed the least to climate change, suffer the most. Annan now heads a new organization called the "Global Humanitarian Forum." Its first annual meeting in June will focus on climate change and ways to help those most at risk. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.

Former U.N. Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, says climate change is responsible for a whole series of threats, including threats to health, security, political stability and social cohesion.

"You can imagine situations where there are scarce resources and people are fighting to control situations where people have to move simply because they cannot survive on land that sustained their parents and grandparents, situations where low-lying cities can be flooded if sea rise there continues," he said. "We believe that the world needs to focus on this."

That is where the Global Humanitarian Forum comes in. Leaders and world experts from business, science, information technology and the military, as well as from traditional humanitarian and development communities will attend its annual conference at the end of June. Forum officials say the leaders will work on solutions to help those most at risk.

The former secretary-general warns that climate change could derail the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, especially cutting poverty in half by 2015. It may even threaten development achieved so far.

He says failed harvests due to severe and unpredictable weather have cut regional output of food staples. And, this might lead to widespread hunger.

"We see in the climate issue, the poor are bearing the brunt," he added. "They pollute the least and they suffer the most. I think there has to be equity and some justice. And, the polluters must be made to pay."

Mr. Annan says the world has accepted the doctrine of responsibility to protect people from genocide, from ethnic cleansing and from systematic violations of human rights by their governments.

"Should not the same logic apply for the protection of people who may not have enough to eat, who may be at the mercy of nature and are helpless to protect themselves," he noted. "There are quite a few issues which are going to come up for discussion."

Mr. Annan says governments must come up with a system for tackling climate change that is not only effective, but equitable. He says the Global Humanitarian Forum can help focus attention on what needs to be done to help the poor and the most vulnerable.

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