NAIROBI - Spurred by a UN warning that Africa risks catastrophic damage from global warming, UN talks in Nairobi from Monday will seek to ease deep rifts over how to widen a fight against climate change beyond 2012.
Delegates at the 189-nation Nov 6-17 talks will try to find ways to widen the UN's Kyoto Protocol, capping emissions of greenhouse gases by 35 industrial nations until 2012, to include outsiders such as the United States, China and India.
"An essential challenge in the future is to create a mechanism that everybody will want to be part of," Yvo de Boer, the head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, told a news conference on the eve of the talks by 6,000 delegates.
He said no final breakthroughs were likely at the Nairobi talks in fixing a plan beyond 2012 for fighting warming that could spur more floods, droughts, spread disease and raise sea levels by almost a metre (three feet) by 2100.
The talks will separately try to aid Africa and the rest of the developing world to adapt to climate change -- with everything from drought-resistant crops to better flood protection.
A report issued on Sunday by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said Africa's vulnerability to climate change was "even more acute" than previously believed.
It said that the number of people in Africa at risk from coastal flooding would rise to 70 million by 2080 from 1 million in 1990 and that 25-40 percent of habitats could be lost. Cereal crop yields could fall by 5 percent by 2080.
"There is a very urgent need to move now" to help Africa to adapt, de Boer said. Kenyan Environment Minister Kivutha Kibwana will open the talks on Monday.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) urged citizens around the world to act to cut greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, rather than wait for negotiators.
"It is happening today and everyone across the planet can act now to do something about it," UNEP head Achim Steiner said.
At the talks, European nations will try to push the United States and developing countries to get more involved in restraining the growth of greenhouse gases.
Washington pulled out of Kyoto in 2001, saying caps on emissions would cost US jobs and that the plan wrongly left developing nations out of targets for 2012.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed in London on Friday to work to build a strong international alliance. A British report last week warned of apocalyptic long-term costs of ignoring climate change.
Of the top four emitters of greenhouse gases -- the US, China, Russia and China -- only Russia is bound by Kyoto.
Read the full story here: Nairobi Climate Talks
Categories: climate change, global warming, poverty, globalization