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.
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid