UN climate chief Christiana Figueres on Thursday warned that a string of weather calamities showed the deepening urgency to forge a breakthrough deal on global warming this year
Speaking before some 40 countries were to address finance, an issue that has helped hamstring UN climate talks, Figueres said floods in Pakistan, fires in Russia and other weather disasters had been a shocking wakeup call.
"The news has been screaming that a future of intense, global climate disasters is not the future that we want," Figueres, newly-appointed executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), told reporters.
"Science will show whether and how those events are related to climate change caused by humanity's greenhouse-gas emissions, but the point is clear: We cannot afford to face escalating disasters of that kind."
Figueres called on governments to agree on "four or five" major planks at year-end UNFCCC talks in Cancun, Mexico, which would then serve as a platform for a 2012 global pact on climate.
"We read it that countries are assuming their responsibility, that they're being realistic, that they're being productive, that they're being constructive and that they're counting on very clear outcomes from Cancun," she said.
One of the issues in Cancun will be funding.
"The regulation of the financial issues is a key precondition for the successful conclusion of the climate negotiations in Cancun," said Swiss Environment Minister Moritz Leuenberger, in a speech to open the talks.
Hundreds of billions of dollars are needed to prevent future emissions of greenhouse gases by emerging economies and help poor countries facing worsening drought, flood, storms and rising seas.
The Geneva talks, running until Friday, gather more than 40 countries at ministerial level, including big advanced economies, emerging giants and countries representative of poor nations.
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