San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

President Arias: Clock is ticking on climate change

With the road to Copenhagen growing shorter, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias urged all countries to do more to save a threatened, warming planet during a speech on Tuesday in New York City at the opening day of a United Nations summit on climate change.

Arias insisted that the world has a maximum of just eight years in which to act.

“We need to do more, and we need to do it more quickly,” Arias said during his address to representatives from more than 180 countries. “We don´t have 20, 40 or 60 years to radically change things. We have, at most, eight years.”

Arias said nations of all income levels must protect forests, which are in decline worldwide, and use clean and renewable energy, which makes up about 20 percent of global consumption.

Arias was one of five leaders that U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon selected to speak at the meeting. U.N. representatives said the president spoke on behalf of middle-income countries, those which officials say play a pivotal role in climate change because they must account for emissions produced by large, developed countries.

During the event, Ban Ki-moon urged countries to reach a specific treaty at Copenhagen to reduce emissions. In his remarks, he commended Japan and the European Union for their commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent before the year 2020.

Costa Rica already has vowed to become the world´s first carbon neutral country by the year 2021.

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