Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom on Tuesday called on nations at the UN climate change conference to think of the agreements as saving lives, not reducing emissions, in order to speed agreement.
"We are in a crisis of principles and values," he told a
press conference. "The question we must ask ourselves is not how much
carbon dioxide emissions we will avoid, but how many deaths I will avoid."
The conference has brought together 25,000 delegates from 194
nations which signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
to Mexico's resort city of Cancun.
The meeting has been tied up by a disagreement over signing a
second commitment period on the Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in
Japan in 1992 by major emitting countries, which committed themselves to
cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2 percent from their 1990 baseline levels
by 2012. However, the U.S. Congress has refused to ratify the Protocol.
Without agreement, "we are burying the dead in every
river," Colom said referring to recent floods across Latin America.
"Today it is in Colombia and Venezuela, a week ago it was in Costa Rica,
two months ago it was in Honduras and in El Salvador, and in May it was in
Mexico and Guatemala."
He said that the whole of human civilization is at risk, not just
the 10 most vulnerable nations. "Twenty years ago we were just thinking
about possible climate change, not how all of us are going to pay the
price," he added.
"In the future, our children and grandchildren are going to
ask what you did when you went as a delegate, minister or president to Cancun,
and the answer is going to depend on what we achieve today and tomorrow,"