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UN's Global Warming Summit May Yet Offset Emissions, "Coal Is Here to Stay," UN's de Boer Says

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, September 22 -- Two days before the UN's summit on global warming, a plan to offset the carbon emissions of the summit is still being "explored," according to Yvo De Boer of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, who also added that "oil and coal are here to stay." Inner City Press asked de Boer and Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change to address reports that a single coal-fired plant will negate the impact, for example, of California's plan to require new cars to reduce emissions by 25% in 2009.

            "Combating climate change is not a war on oil, and is not a war on coal," said Mr. de Boer. He spoke of China and India both having coal and "economic growth goals" that means that coal is here to stay. Dr. Pachauri said one shouldn't "minimize the importance of behavioral changes," and that these don't mean "going back to the Stone Age." As an example, he mentioned shifting to public transportation.

   Inner City Press asked Pachauri to clarify a statement in Australia last month, that government's should do economic analysis before setting emission reductions goals. "That was totally misreported," Dr. Pachauri said. His statement against "political and emotional responses" referred to claiming that environmentalism "will cost jobs," not to those who say climate change is the largest problem. De Boer chimed in that national assessments should including the savings brought on by reducing energy use, and not only the costs. Video here, from Minute 40:20.

Yvo de Boer and Ban Ki-moon, carbon offsetting not yet shown

            On the issue of offsetting the carbon emissions of the Summit, which Inner City Press has been asking Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his spokesperson for weeks, for example on August 29 -- "unexpected," Mr. Ban has called Inner City Press' question -- de Boer was handed a note. "We respect the position of member states," he said. "It's their responsibility to offset their own emissions. We in the UN are exploring what we can do to offset the carbon footprint of this conference." Video here, from Minute 22:04.

            Inner City Press asked when the exploration would be over, given that the conference is in two days' time. The spokesman said, "I believe before the conference begins we'll be able to be more definite about those details." We'll see.

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Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540