Citing evidence of climate change "all around us," from declining Arctic ice to increasingly frequent extreme weather, with looming threats ranging from species extinction to human health hazards, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Louise Fr�chette today called for "bold, creative" global action in response.

“The science is solid. The threat is clear. Yet our response is failing to meet the challenge,” she told the high-level segment of the UN Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) conference in Montreal, Canada, which is seeking to draw up an action plan for the period after 2012, when the Kyoto protocol on reducing greenhouse gases expires.

“This is science, not science fiction,” she added referring to the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“Their authoritative assessment suggests that climate change is happening, that human activities are among the main contributing factors, and that we cannot wait any longer to take action. Indeed, the longer we wait, the higher the costs.”

Listing the evidence, which also includes retreating glaciers, and the “equally disconcerting” future projections of rising seas and diminishing agricultural yields in many areas, Ms. Fréchette called for a framework that embraces action by all nations beyond 2012.

“I urge all industrialized countries to intensify their efforts to bring emissions well below 1990 levels, thus paving the way for action in the developing world,” she said. She also acknowledged that no matter how much is done to cut emissions, the build-up has already been enough to make some climate change inevitable.

“Therefore we will need to adapt to climate change,” she added, noting that suction actions as building flood walls and planting crops suited to warmer temperatures could soften the impact. While the private sector has a vital part to play, it is first and foremost the job of governments to set the wheels in motion, she said, calling on industrialized countries which are responsible for most of current global greenhouse gas emissions to take the lead.

“The world is on a perilous course. We are, in effect carrying out an uncontrolled experiment with the global climate, which involves serious risks for ecosystems, economies and human health,” she concluded. Urging participants to be “bold and creative,” she warned: “There is really no time to lose.”