Extreme weather is the new normal and poses a threat to the human race, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday as he sought to revive deadlocked global climate change talks.
Ban's intervention came as efforts to agree a symbolic extension of the U.N. Kyoto Protocol, a treaty that obliges about 35 developed nations to cut their greenhouse gas emissions until the end of 2012, looked to be faltering.
In a speech to almost 200 nations meeting in Doha to try to get a breakthrough, Ban said a thaw in Arctic sea ice to record lows this year, superstorms and rising sea levels were all signs of a crisis.
"The abnormal is the new normal," he told delegates at the Nov. 26-Dec. 7 talks. He said signs of change were apparent everywhere and "from the United States to India, from Ukraine to Brazil, drought (has) decimated essential global crops".
"No one is immune to climate change – rich or poor. It is an existential challenge for the whole human race – our way of life, our plans for the future," he said.
The failure to agree a Kyoto extension is blocking efforts to lay the foundations of a new global U.N. deal that is meant to be agreed in 2015 and to enter into force from 2020.
At the last attempt in 2009, a summit in Copenhagen failed to agreed a global deal to succeed Kyoto. Kyoto requires countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels from 2008 to 2012.