Future of planet at stake, Ban tells climate talks

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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday urged deadlocked climate talks in Durban to work urgently for solutions, saying the future of the planet was at stake.

"It would be difficult to overstate the gravity of this moment," Ban said at the start of a four-day meeting of the world's environment ministers.

"Without exaggeration, we can say: the future of our planet is at stake -- people's lives, the health of the global economy, the very survival of some nations."

The 12-day talks under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have been hamstrung by a row over the future of the Kyoto Protocol, the world's only legally-binding treaty for curbing greenhouses gases blamed for climate change.

"I urge you to carefully consider a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol," Ban said.

Pointing to economic problems and "abiding political differences" about how to tackle climate change, the UN chief said everyone had to be "realistic" about the chances of a breakthrough in Durban.

"It may be true, as many say: the ultimate goal of a comprehensive and binding climate-change agreement may be beyond our reach, for now," Ban said.

"Yet let me emphasise: None of these uncertainties should prevent us from making real progress here in Durban."

© 2011 AFP

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