- Title: ARCTIC OCEAN ICE SHEET: U.N. chief calls for urgent action on climate
- Date: 2nd September 2009
- Summary: ARCTIC OCEAN ICE SHEET (SEPTEMBER 1, 2009) (POOL) SHOT OF GLACIER U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL BAN KI-MOON WITH CAPTAIN ON BRIDGE OF NORWEGIAN COASTGUARD ICE BREAKER "KV SVALBARD" VARIOUS OF COAST GUARD VESSEL KV SVALBARD PASSING THROUGH SEA ICE MEMBERS OF CREW OF KV SVALBARD STANDING ABOARD / WIDE OF KV SVALBARD VARIOUS OF U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL DESCENDING FROM SHIP TO ICE / SHAKING HANDS WITH RESEARCHERS GUARD WATCHING FOR POLAR BEARS RESEARCHER SHOWING U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL DEVICE TO MEASURE SOLAR RADIATION VARIOUS OF RESEARCHERS DRILLING ICE / TAKING ICE OUT OF DRILL RESEARCHERS USING DEVICE TO MEASURE THICKNESS, VOLUME AND CHARACTERISTICS OF ICE TO DETERMINE HOW IT CHANGES OVER TIME VIEW OF GLACIERS TAKEN FROM HELICOPTER
- Embargoed: 17th September 2009 13:00
- Topics: Nature / Environment
- Reuters ID: LVA48E9JGAE6PH1MWNO8LVNLOI1Y
- Story Text: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday (September 1) called on world leaders to take urgent action to combat climate change.
Ban, on a tour of Svalbard, the remote Norwegian-controlled Arctic archipelago, said the region might have no ice within 30 years if present climate trends persisted.
The U.N. Secretary-General made an impassioned plea for politicians to seal a global climate pact this year.
He said the Arctic, where temperatures have been rising faster than elsewhere, was "ground zero" for climate research and a warning to politicians to move fast towards a deal to slash emissions of greenhouse gasses stoking global warming.
The Arctic ice cap has been shrinking faster than scientists expected, as air and water temperatures rise, and may disappear totally during summers before 2050, research shows.
As the reflective ice cap melts, it reveals darker waters which absorb more solar energy and accelerate climate change.
Moving northward through increasingly thick sea ice for nearly two hours, the coastguard vessel met an Arctic research ship some 1,000 km (600 miles) from the North Pole -- a latitude of more than 80 degrees North.
There, researchers showed Ban how they measure the ice's thickness, temperature and other qualities in the hope of finding out why more of it has been drifting out of the Arctic Ocean in past years to melt in the relatively warmer North Atlantic.
To protect against polar bears, spotted in the area hours earlier, guards armed with rifles and flare guns controlled the perimeters of the ice sheet.
Ban said he expected the 100 or so world leaders who will take part in climate talks in New York this month to "demonstrate their leadership" and reinvigorate negotiations before December's main meeting in Copenhagen.
Ban is also fighting to renew his leadership credentials after a scathing memo from a Norwegian diplomat criticised him for weak rule and warned of a potential flop in Copenhagen.
The Copenhagen talks are due to work out a replacement for the Kyoto protocol which limits emissions until 2012. But a deal remains elusive until the world's industrialised countries strike a deal with developing states led by China and India over the scope of emission curbs and how to pay for them.
Ban said he was "working hard" with leaders to agree emission reduction targets for developed nations of at least 25 percent by 2020, compared to 1990 levels. Already announced cuts fall well short of the target.
"We must seal the deal in Copenhagen. That is a must," he said, adding the December 7-18 talks may produce the framework for a climate pact but not resolve all the details.
Melting sea ice does not lead to higher sea levels but warmer Arctic temperatures are also melting glaciers, whose run-offs fill oceans with more water.
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