April 18, 2008 / 12:06 AM / 9 years ago

France says climate outlook gloomy, urges action

4 Min Read

<p>France's President Nicolas Sarkozy delivers a speech at after visiting an hospital in Neufchateau, Eastern France April 17, 2008.Philippe Wojazer</p>

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy called on all major economies on Friday to act faster to fight global warming, saying new scientific evidence was confirming the "most gloomy scenarios."

Sarkozy, speaking at U.S.-led climate talks of 17 nations responsible for 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, said rich nations should lead by axing greenhouse gas emissions to help slow impacts such as droughts, floods or rising seas.

He did not refer directly to a plan by President George W. Bush on Wednesday to set only a 2025 ceiling on rising U.S. emissions. That was criticized by many U.S. allies as far too weak -- most other rich countries are cutting from a 1990 peak.

"We cannot afford the luxury that one of you remains behind by the roadside because the whole planet needs every one of you," he told delegates to applause in a speech on the second day of the April 17-18 meeting.

"I would like to pass on a simple message to you: the situation is urgent and this urgency must prompt each of us to overcome our defensive reactions, no matter how legitimate they may be," he said.

"Bad news continues to emerge. Scientific models and empirical observations indicate that the events unfolding now confirm the experts' most gloomy scenarios," he said.

"Faster-than-expected melting of ice in the polar regions comes as unwelcome proof."

New Treaty

The Paris talks are seeking to find common ground between countries including the United States, China, Russia, the European Union and India on how to work out a new treaty by the end of 2009 to fight climate change.

The talks, the third of a series launched by Bush last year, are meant to come up with common goals by the end of 2008 to help contribute to a successor treaty for the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol from 2013.

Delegates said there were deep divisions about whether the major economies at the talks should endorse a goal of a 50 percent cut in world greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 - a target favored by the EU, Japan and Canada.

Bush's goal of capping emissions only in 2025 would make such a goal hard to agree at the Group of Eight industrial nations' summit in Japan in July and related meetings with developing nations, delegates said.

"Per capita emissions in the developed countries must fall and they must fall fast," Sarkozy said. The United States and China are the top national emitters of greenhouse gases but U.S. per capita emissions are four times higher than China's.

"Fairness demands that all participate in the common effort, even if the developed countries must accept more stringent constraints than the developing countries, for which pursuing swift growth is crucial," he said.

He said that he would soon propose a global partnership for food and agriculture to help resolve food crises in developing nations. France would also double its food aid budget in 2008 to almost $100 million, he said.

The Paris talks group the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Britain, Japan, China, Canada, India, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Australia, Indonesia and South Africa. The European Commission, current European Union president Slovenia and the United Nations are also attending.

-- For latest environment blogs click on: blogs.reuters.com/environment/

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