24 September 2009 No one is immune to the impact of climate change, the head of the United Nations maritime agency warned today in a message urging world leaders to reach agreement at an international conference aimed at firming up an effective greenhouse gas reduction pact in December.
“Mankind is on the horns of a dilemma,” stressed Efthimios Mitropoulos, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
In a message marking World Maritime Day, whose theme this year is “Climate Change: a challenge for IMO too!,” Mr. Mitropoulos said that whether “we like it or not, our collective way of life has become unsustainable and we need to do something about it, and soon.
“The choices we have made about the way we lead our lives have been slowly eating away at the very support system that enables us to live and breathe,” said Mr. Mitropoulos. “This cannot, and should not, go on.”
The IMO chief underscored that finding solutions to the threat of climate change are everyone’s responsibility and the solutions need to be realistic, cost-effective, well-balanced, and implemented through clear, transparent, and “fraud-free” mechanisms.
The international community can provide the force needed to push ministers and Heads of State to act decisively and in concert when they meet in Copenhagen in December to agree on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol treaty to cut carbon emissions, said Mr. Mitropoulos.
Echoing a speech made by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in India earlier this year, he said that industrialized countries “bear a great deal of responsibility for the state of the planet today, and they must bear their share of the burden when it comes to paying for solutions.
“But, at the same time, countries which did not contribute as much to global warming still have a responsibility to address it. I don’t think this is the time for finger pointing.”
He said that responsibility to take bold, comprehensive and coordinated action to jump-start the recovery of the planet lies with industrialized countries, emerging economies and the developing world. “Working together, with a sense of responsibility for future generations, the agreements the Copenhagen Conference will be able to make later this year can have genuine and lasting value.”
Gaëlle Sévenier of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said the agency was joining the IMO in celebrating International Maritime Day by issuing a new guide for the security and improvement of maritime navigation in newly opened Arctic sea lanes, created by climate change.
WMO said that the new edition of the Manual on Maritime Safety Information, released jointly with IMO and the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), is a practical guide for anyone concerned with drafting navigational warnings or with issuing weather forecasts and warnings under the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).
World Maritime Day, which IMO celebrates in the last week of September every year, is used to focus attention on the importance of shipping safety, maritime security and the marine environment and to emphasize a particular aspect of IMO's work.
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