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

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

Video Better Protective Suit Sought for Ebola Caregivers

Current suit is uncomfortable, requires too many steps for removal, increasing chance of deadly contact with virus More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week 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.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid