Three U.N. special envoys will be soliciting the views of world leaders on tackling climate change to help Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon prepare for a June meeting of major industrialized nations and decide whether to hold a high-level U.N. event on global warming in September.
Former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, one of the envoys, said in an interview Wednesday that Ban wants to get a picture of the concerns of leaders of the nations most responsible for climate change, those most affected by global warming, and the major developing countries, such as China, India and Brazil.
"It's not primarily to ... do with finger-pointing and what every country should be doing," she said. "This is helping the secretary-general influence and move the political process forward. ... The question is how do we move to avoid disaster."
Ban will attend the June summit of the Group of Eight major industrialized countries — the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Canada and Russia — hosted by Germany, which has made climate change a top priority on the agenda.
A report last week by a U.N. network of 2,000 scientists laid out measures that must be rushed into place to avert a disastrous spike in global temperatures.
Variety of views sought out
Brundtland said she and the other special envoys — former South Korean Foreign Minister Han Seung-soo and former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos — will be consulting ahead of the G-8 summit with leaders from the main emitters of greenhouse gases, from the major developing world economies, and from small island nations and the poorest countries.
She said Ban is also trying to decide whether to hold a high-level event on climate change at U.N. headquarters ahead of the annual ministerial meeting of the General Assembly in September.
"And that will be part of what we are consulting on — so that he knows what support he has for that initiative beforehand," Brundtland said. "He hasn't announced it. He's just considering (it) at the moment."
The consultations will also include what to focus on if there is a high-level meeting, possibly technology, energy efficiency, the carbon market, deforestation or other ideas, she said.
Brundtland noted that the fight must be joined by the highest producers of emissions, such as the United States, and also major developing countries. The United States is not a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, a 1997 international treaty that caps the amount of carbon dioxide that can be emitted from power plants and factories in industrialized countries. Currently, developing countries like China and India are exempt from its obligations.
Envoy: Nations must give a little
More than 1,000 diplomats have begun working on a new accord to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. The ideas will be put before a larger meeting of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in December in Bali, Indonesia, when U.N. officials hope to launch formal talks on a post-Kyoto treaty.
Brundtland warned that if all countries stick to their national positions, "it's not possible to get a constructive meeting in Bali."
In a speech earlier to the opening session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, she said industrialized nations must take responsibility for having "filled up the atmosphere" and work to reinvigorate the fight against global warming.
Brundtland said the world must move forward on a broad front to improve energy efficiency, increase the use of renewable energy sources, improve agricultural and forestry practices, develop a truly global carbon trading market, "and focus on adaptation, in particular for the least developed countries and small island states."