UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged rich and poor nations to agree on new steps to fight global warming, telling a 189-nation conference that Europe and the US must take the lead in avoiding a climate "catastrophe."
Ban warned against "backsliding" on clean-air targets just as EU leaders in Brussels considered a watered-down plan for making industry buy permits to emit carbon dioxide, the gas most blamed for global warming.
Europe's apparent wavering stoked discord at the UN climate conference, part of efforts to reach a global deal next December to reduce emissions of gases emitted when fossil fuels are burned.
Guyana's president, Bharrat Jagdeo, said he feared the world's economic downturn would divert money and attention from fighting climate change as countries seek to protect jobs and industries.
"If Europe sends a signal that it can make deep commitments only in prosperous times, what are the developing countries going to say, including China?" Jagdeo told delegates gathered in Poznan, Poland, for the last two days of this year's main UN climate meeting.
Emissions have been rising most rapidly in emerging economies such as China and India. In bargaining for a global deal, developing nations are under pressure to curb emissions in return for pledges of new cuts by industrialized countries.
Ban urged governments to treat the global financial crisis as an opportunity to speed investment in clean technology. He evoked the New Deal, a massive public works programme launched by US president Franklin D Roosevelt during the Great Depression.
"We need a Green New Deal," he told government leaders as they began two days of high-level talks. "This is a deal that works for all nations, rich as well as poor." [_]