(NaturalNews) United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has warned that without a comprehensive international agreement to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that lead to global warming, humanity faces "oblivion."
"The world's scientists have spoken with one voice: the situation is grim and urgent action is needed," Ban said. "The situation is so desperately serious that any delay could push us past the tipping point, beyond which the ecological, financial and human costs would increase dramatically.
"We are at a crossroads: one path leads to a comprehensive climate change agreement, the other one to oblivion."
Ban spoke upon arriving on the Indonesian island of Bali to help break the impasse over negotiations for a new climate treaty to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Under Kyoto, 37 nations agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. Those goals are not on track, in large part because of the United States' refusal to sign the treaty.
The purpose of the Bali meetings was to include a far greater range of countries -- 190 were involved in the gathering -- and set a framework, called the "Bali Roadmap," for the next two years of negotiations, at which point a treaty is set to be finalized.
The controversy during the meetings resulted largely from a disagreement between the European Union, which favored setting strict mandatory emissions reduction goals, and the United States, which opposed mentioning specific targets and favors only voluntary emissions reductions.
The European Union pushed for the nations assembled to agree to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2020. This is the change that the Nobel Peace Prize-winning U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said is necessary to avoid irreversible catastrophe.
But the United States opposed including such numbers. Even a compromise on the wording, which would have mentioned the U.N. panel's recommendation but not committed the Bali nations to meeting that goal, was ultimately removed from the Bali Roadmap at the insistence of the United States.