Nobel Peace Prize ups pressure for climate action
Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to former US Vice President Al Gore and the UN climate panel widens a definition of peacemaking and will raise pressure for the world to agree a new deal to combat global warming.
"I hope this will enhance further a sense of urgency," said Yvo de Boer, the head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat who wants governments to set an end-2009 deadline to work out a new long-term plan to fight global warming.
The secretive Nobel committee, making a first award clearly linking climate change to peace since the prize was set up in 1901, yesterday said: "Action is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond man's control".
The prize to Mr Gore and the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which has issued reports this year outlining risks of global warming, partly targets the world's environment ministers who will meet in Bali from December 3-14.
The United Nations and the Group of Eight industrialised countries want them to agree a two-year negotiating mandate to broaden the UN's Kyoto Protocol, the main plan for curbing warming, to outsiders such as the United States and China.
By coincidence, the Nobel Prize will be handed out in a ceremony in Oslo on December 10 - and so gives both Mr Gore and Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, a new stage to urge action. Both Mr Pachauri and Mr Gore were already due to visit Bali.
But not everyone was convinced by a prize that seemed a slap at US President George W. Bush, who narrowly beat Mr Gore in the 2000 presidential election. Mr Gore has since campaigned for more action to slow global warming.
A spokesman for Czech President Vaclav Klaus, for instance, said he was "somewhat surprised that Al Gore got the Peace Prize, because the relation between his activities and world peace is unclear and indistinct".
Mr Bush decided not to implement Kyoto - favoured by Mr Gore - in 2001 when he decided that its curbs would cost US jobs and that it unfairly omitted 2012 targets for developing nations. Until now he has favoured voluntary measures.
Broadening a definition of peace, the Nobel Committee said "there may be increased danger of violent conflicts and wars," because of tensions over ever scarcer resources caused by more floods, droughts, desertification and rising seas.