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UN’s Ban Says ‘Breakthrough’ Needed To Combat Climate Change

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has ratcheted up the pressure on the U.S. to help achieve a breakthrough on cutting greenhouse-gas emissions, Bloomberg reports. “I have high expectations of all countries, including the United States,” Ban said at the global warming gathering in new York yesterday. He noted that it might be a “long and difficult negotiation process.”

World leaders indirectly put the focus on the U.S. by stressing the need for the world’s major emitters to agree on greenhouse-gas cuts.

Diplomats concluded a UN-sponsored climate meeting in Vienna earlier this month with a statement saying industrialized countries should aspire to cut their emissions to 25 percent to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

President Bush and his administration are holding its own meeting on climate change later this week. Bush remains opposed to mandatory emissions cuts, which sets the stage for a possible stalemate in December when UN countries meet in Indonesia to begin climate talks.

“If we don’t act now, the impact of climate change will be devastating,” Ban said. A “real breakthrough” will be needed to reach a new treaty before the current agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, expires in 2012, he said.

Alcoa CEO Alain Belda took part in a plenary session on emissions reduction. Belda said global businesses such as Alcoa want to see development by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change of a flexible, multilateral framework, which recognizes the diversity among major economies and establishes fair, effective, and binding international commitments for all major emitting countries.

“The framework should provide flexibility for business to achieve efficient lowest cost reductions immediately and promote investment in development and application of necessary breakthrough technologies. It should include measures and incentives to reduce emissions from land use change and deforestation. Innovation and new technologies have been growth drivers in the global economy in the past,” Belda said. “I believe there is no other option and failing to act presents an unacceptable level of risk. As an industry leader, we at Alcoa accept the responsibility to act and look to joining with all of you in what must be a shared global effort.”

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