- Associated Press - Thursday, December 9, 2010

CANCUN, MEXICO (AP) - Bolivia’s President Evo Morales, addressing a U.N. climate conference with modest goals, said Thursday that governments will be committing “ecocide” if they fail to act decisively to halt global warming.

It will be a “failure on the part of the powers of the world, not the peoples, because we need to adopt texts that do not allow further warming of the Earth,” Morales told delegates to the two-week conference, which ends on Friday.

The Bolivians lead a group of dissident, left-leaning Latin American governments at the annual U.N. talks, and have complained in particular about closed consultations limited to a select number of delegations.

Morales echoed that complaint in a passionate, 20-minute speech, raising questions anew about whether his Bolivarian coalition of nations will block consensus on items before the assembly.

Citing families deprived of water because of warming and drought, and islanders facing the loss of homes from seas rising from global warming, Morales said that if governments move away from strong, mandatory emissions reductions, “then we will be responsible for `ecocide,’ which is equivalent to genocide because this would be an affront to mankind as a whole.”

This year again, the U.N. talks will fail to produce an overarching deal to slash emissions of global warming gases. From the start, the talks focused instead on reaching agreement in secondary areas under the 193-nation U.N. climate treaty.

Delegates haggled and cajoled in search of compromise on a raft of issues, including whether industrial nations should generate $100 billion a year, or up to six times as much, to help poorer countries cope with global warming.

Setting up such a “green fund” would top the list of accomplishments in Cancun, and late Wednesday, the special climate envoy of host Mexico foresaw success.

“Our expectation is it will be decided at Cancun,” said Luis Alfonso de Alba.

Earlier, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, leading a discussion on climate financing, described the fund as “crucial for building trust between the developed and developing world,” trust that U.N. officials hope could eventually pave the way to a comprehensive climate deal.

Last year’s climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, was supposed to have produced a global pact under which richer nations, and possibly some poorer ones, would be required to rein in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted by industry, vehicles and agriculture.

That agreement would have succeeded the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which mandated modest emissions reductions by developed nations that expire in 2012. Alone in the industrial world, the U.S. rejected Kyoto, complaining that emerging economies, such as China and India, should also have taken on obligations.

The 2009 summit produced instead a “Copenhagen Accord” under which the U.S., China and more than 80 other nations made voluntary pledges to reduce emissions, or at least to limit their growth.

In a sign of the sensitivity of even voluntary pledges, the U.S. and China are squabbling in Cancun over an effort to “anchor” them in a fresh U.N. document. The Chinese want separate listings to maintain a distinction between developing and developed countries, and the Americans want a single integrated list.

The green fund would help developing nations buy advanced clean-energy technology to reduce their own emissions, and to adapt to climate change, by building seawalls against rising seas, for example, and upgrading farming practices to compensate for shifting rain patterns.

Story Continues →