The world cannot afford escalating disasters of the kind recently witnessed in Pakistan and Russia, the top United Nations climate change official said today, underscoring the need for governments to take swift action to lead the world towards a low-carbon future. Flooding in Pakistan and wildfires in Russia were "so dramatic" that many other major weather disasters in other parts of the world "were relegated as secondary news," Christina Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), told reporters today in Geneva. "Science will show whether and how these events are related to the climate change that is caused by humanity's greenhouse gas emissions," she added. Ms. Figueres stressed that only governments can prepare societies for climate change and that they must continue to make progress through UN negotiations, "every time taking bigger, bolder steps to keep us ahead of the storm." The next UNFCCC negotiating session will be held in Tianjin, China, in October, before countries are set to meet at the next conference of parties in Cancun, Mexico, in November. "There is a growing sense of urgency amongst governments that they need to take this next step in Cancun," the UNFCCC chief reporters today on the margins of an informal dialogue on financing for climate change attended by some 40 ministers. "They are closer to the shape of an agreement, but remain divided on what it should contain." Governments have made many pledges to cut or curb the growth of their emissions, she said, but in the Mexican city countries must decide how and when to capture such pledges in an accountable and binding manner. "At Cancun, they can take clear decisions to construct a set of better, bigger ways and means for countries to work together to take global action at the frontline," Ms. Figueres said. Industrialized nations have promised to provide $30 billion in fast-track financing for developing countries to adapt and mitigate climate change through 2012, with the provision of these funds viewed as these countries' commitment to climate negotiations by poorer nations, she noted. Pledges have also been made to raise $100 billion annually by 2020 by wealthier countries, and Ms. Figueres underscored that "concrete proposals on how to do this are now required."


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