Thu, Feb 01, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Lights out as world waits for global warming report

HEATED DISCUSSION The top UN official for the environment asked the organization's secretary-general to convene an emergency summit on greenhouse gases


The Eiffel Tower's 20,000 flashing light bulbs will go dark for five minutes tomorrow evening, hours before scientists and officials publish a long-awaited report about global warming.

The blackout comes at the urging of environmental activists seeking to call attention to energy waste -- and just hours before world scientists unveil a major report on Friday warning that the planet will keep getting warmer and presenting new evidence of humanity's role in climate change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will release a report laying out policy proposals for governments based on the latest research on global warming.

The top UN official for the environment asked Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday to convene an emergency summit of world leaders aimed at breaking a deadlock over cutting greenhouse gases.

The impetus for such a world summit is US President George W. Bush's acknowledgment in his Jan. 24 State of the Union speech that climate change needs to be dealt with and the EU's Jan. 10 proposals for a new European energy policy that stresses the need to slash carbon emissions blamed for global warming, UN environment program spokesman Nick Nuttall said.

"There's a lot of momentum that has being building," Nuttall said. "We have a window of opportunity."

The second day of the Paris talks wound down on Tuesday more or less on schedule, said officials at UNESCO, the conference's host.

There was little sign of the late-night wrangling among countries that marked previous reports. The report must be unanimously approved by bureaucrats from more than 100 governments who can challenge the scientists' wording.

"The government people determine how things are said, but we [the scientists] determine what is said," said Kevin Trenberth, a lead author of the report and director of climate analysis at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research.

The end result is a cautious document, many scientists said.

"So far we're running on timetable. But who knows, we've got two more days. If there's any panic, it will be Wednesday night when they realize they've only got a few hours left," said Stephanie Tunmore of Greenpeace.

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