Planet could change if greenhouse gases are left unchecked, Annan warns

29 September 2003 –

If the ever-increasing emission of greenhouse remains unchecked, the planet as we know it today could look very different by the end of this century, with many small islands gone and ecological life-support systems under stress as never before, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned today.

“Scientist and others have been sounding the alarm about climate change for many years now,” Mr. Annan said in a message delivered by the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Klaus Toepfer, to the World Conference on Climate Change, which kicked-off today in Moscow.

The Russian Federation convened the Conference with support from international organizations involved in climate change problems. Delegates will hold comprehensive discussions on the scientific aspects of natural and anthropogenic climate change, as well as adapting human society, economies and ecosystems to such changes. The Conference aims to foster maximum mutual understanding on these issues between various stakeholders.

“By the end of this century, as a result of ever-increasing emissions of greenhouse gases, our planet may look very different: with many small islands gone, the Arctic Ocean free of ice for many months of the year, agricultural regions dramatically altered, and our ecological life-support systems under stress as never before,” Mr. Annan said in the message.

Fortunately, civil society groups are doing their part to advocate for change, enlightened corporate leaders are seizing the opportunity to use and develop greener technologies and many governments are listening to the scientific forecasts, he said, noting that the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change enjoys nearly universal membership.

“Almost 120 nations have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, an essential first step in tackling this planetary challenge,” Mr. Annan said. “I join people throughout the world in eagerly awaiting ratification by the Russian Federation, which will bring the Protocol into force and further galvanize global action.”

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