Thursday, November 15, 2007

OPEC Must Tackle Climate Change: U.N. Official


RIYADH (Reuters) - OPEC oil exporters must take climate change seriously at a summit meeting this week, ahead of a key meeting to tackle global warming in Bali next month. a leading U.N. climate change official said on Thursday.

"I encourage OPEC to contribute to climate change abatement and to play an important role in history to drive forward sound solutions to a global problem," Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, told an OPEC forum in the Saudi capital.

"They should continue to take climate change seriously," he said of OPEC heads of state, due to meet in Riyadh on Saturday and Sunday. "International action on climate change is a war against emissions, not a war against oil."

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries includes many of the world's top oil producers, whose economies are booming as world energy prices soar to record levels.

De Boer said December's U.N. climate change conference in Bali, where negotiations on a new international climate change regime are to be launched, will be a make-or-break point for international efforts to stop the planet heating up.

"If things go wrong in Bali then we really are in deep trouble. If you get a wake-up call from science now and don't act on it then that means you are in trouble," he said, describing climate change as the most complicated issue facing the international community.

"There are strong signals that countries are willing to advance negotiations in Bali and come to a negotiating agenda."

But the U.N. climate chief said a solution must not cripple the developing world economies and that nuclear energy would be key to handling the problem.

"I really feel we have to accept economic growth and the desire to eradicate poverty as a reality," he said.

"I have not seen a credible scenario to reverse climate change that doesn't involve nuclear," he said, citing the future energy needs of China and India, which each have populations of over one billion.

(Reporting by Andrew Hammond)

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