UN says new report to spur climate change action

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VALENCIA, Spain, Nov 17 (Reuters) Governments must do more to fight global warming, spurred by a new UN scientific report and damage to nature that is already as frightening as science fiction, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.

''This report will be formally presented to the (UN Climate Change) Conference in Bali,'' Ban told delegates from more than 130 nations in Valencia and praised them for agreeing an authoritative guide to the risks of climate change yesterday.

''Already, it has set the stage for a real breakthrough -- an agreement to launch negotiations for a comprehensive climate change deal that all nations can embrace,'' he said.

Ban said that he had just been on a trip to see ice shelves breaking up in Antarctica and the melting Torres del Paine glaciers in Chile. He also visited the Amazon rainforest, which he said was being ''suffocated'' by global warming.

''I come to you humbled after seeing some of the most precious treasures of our planet -- treasures that are being threatened by humanity's own hand,'' he said.

''These scenes are as frightening as a science fiction movie,'' Ban said. ''But they are even more terrifying, because they are real.'' Delegates at UN climate change talks reached agreement on the document after protracted negotiations over several days which included one all night session.

The document, which gives a summary of the latest scientific knowledge on the causes and effects of climate change, will be put before environment ministers in Bali, Indonesia, next month -- a meeting which is likely to agree a two-year strategy to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

The summary says human activity is causing rising temperatures and that deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, are needed to avert more heat waves, melting glaciers and rising sea levels.

BALI MEETING Scientists and government officials from the 130-state Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have boiled down the findings of three reports they have issued this year about the risks of warming.

The reports on the causes, consequences and possible remedies for climate change have become a summary for policy-makers to make progress on the issue at the Bali meeting which is expected to lay down the climate change agenda after Kyoto's first period ends in 2012.

Delegates from the environmental movement appeared happy the synthesis had not watered down the message from the scientific advisers and said fears ahead of the talks were not realised.

''The strong message of the IPCC can't be watered down - the science is crystal clear. The hard fact is we have caused climate change, and it's also clear that we hold the solution to stop global warming in our hands,'' said Hans Verolme, Director of environmental group WWF's Global Climate Change Programme.

The report also received at least some support from the United States, often seen as the bete noir of environmentalists.

''The scientists have done their job, and now it's time President (George W) Bush and this Congress do their part and support immediate action on global warming, starting with this energy bill,'' said Chairman Edward J Markey (D-Mass) of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

Congress is considering a bill that would raise the fuel economy of US vehicles, increase renewable energy produced and used in the United States, and send billions of gallons of renewable fuels to US fuel pumps, Markey said in a statement.

The Kyoto treaty obliges 36 industrial nations to cut emissions by at least 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12. A new deal would aim to involve outsiders led by America and China, the world's top two emitters which have no Kyoto goals.

The IPCC has drawn much more attention since it became the joint winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with former US Vice President Al Gore and this has meant that governments are watching and shaping its conclusions with even more care.

REUTERS PD BD1625

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