News / Africa

World Leaders Seek End to Climate Talk Gridlock

South African President Jacob Zuma, left back, speaks during the opening ceremony of the second week of climate change conference in Durban, South Africa, December 6, 2011.
South African President Jacob Zuma, left back, speaks during the opening ceremony of the second week of climate change conference in Durban, South Africa, December 6, 2011.

Heads of state and government have arrived in Durban, South Africa, raising hopes U.N. climate-change talks will gain momentum.  While expectations for a major deal remain low, world leaders are urging all parties to work together to confront the urgent threat posed by global warming.                       

South African President Jacob Zuma told assembled delegates at the U.N. climate conference in Durban the world is looking to its leaders to overcome their differences and to come up with solutions to combat climate change.

“The problem is that we all agreed that the Earth is in danger," said Zuma. "We all agreed that in fact we must do something about it. We also all agreed that the problem is when we have got to say, 'What is it?  How?' I think we must overcome that hurdle.”

Zuma summed up progress at the talks, which have been slowed by differences between governments on key agreements, including whether to accept a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol - a legally binding mandate to cut carbon emissions - or to adopt a “roadmap” to a new global pact.

But several parties that had enacted the Kyoto protocol have indicated they will not sign on for another term, including Japan, Russia and Canada.  The United States never adopted the agreement and has ruled out any legally binding deals for now.

Underscoring the low expectations among delegates going into the talks, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivered a sobering message.

“It may be true, as many say, the ultimate goal of a comprehensive and binding climate change agreement may be beyond our reach for now," said Ban. "Yet let me emphasize, none of these uncertainties should prevent us from taking real progress here in Durban.”

Ban said achieving progress at the talks is like riding a bicycle - you stay upright and keep moving forward as long as you maintain momentum.

Many delegates hope Durban will produce an agreement on the Green Climate Fund, which is an initiative hatched at the last climate summit in Cancun, Mexico, to provide developing countries with money to invest in projects that reduce the impact of climate change.

Some countries say they are still waiting for funding from the so-called Fast Start program established at the previous conference in Copenhagen.

Speaking on behalf of the African Union, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said resolving these funding issues is of “utmost importance” to Africans.

“We are already severely affected by the climate change, as a result of which the lives of millions of Africans is already at stake as the extraordinary drought in the Horn of Africa shows," said Zenawi. "We are therefore deeply disappointed that the Fast Track funding promised to us in Copenhagen has to a large extent failed to materialize. This puts the credibility of the whole process at risk in the eyes of the peoples of our continent"

One country's leader has refused to accept that conference participants might shift their focus away from stopping the emissions blamed for global warming, and simply find ways to adapt to climate change.

“Already communities in our islands have been forced to flee their homes to escape rising seas, and unless bold action is taken, much of my region could be rendered uninhabitable within our grandchildren's lifetime," said Sprent Dabridow, the president of the island nation of Nauru.

As global temperature increases raise global sea levels, Nauru and other island nations are put increasingly at risk. 

The International Energy Agency recently issued a report indicating the world has only five years to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to avoid irreversible damage from climate change.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid