Small island states, such as Grenada, say that target is not enough to stem the problem and could lead to the disappearance below the waves of some of these nations as well as devastating storm surges and tropical cyclones. "We do not want to have one environmental refugee," Angus Friday, Grenada's ambassador to the U.N., said. "We want to have mitigation efforts that don't take us as high as 2 degrees. If we can do that, we can avoid refugees."
Experts say the key to stemming climate change is changing the way the world uses energy. Renewable energy sources, such as the sun and wind, advances in technology to capture and store the carbon created by burning coal, and even the harvesting of uranium's energy will all likely be required. "We must acknowledge," James Rogers, chief executive of North Carolina–based Duke Energy, said during a conference address, "that if we're not serious about building more nuclear energy [power plants] around the world then we are not serious about addressing climate change."
The event was designed to spur a new global treaty to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and stem anthropogenic climate change. Negotiations for such a treaty, a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, are scheduled to begin in Bali on December 3. Former action movie star and now governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, urged "action, action, action" from world leaders in his address. Al Gore called for a ban on the construction of new coal-fired power plants, a post-Bali session to review its results, and a high-level meeting every three months afterward "until a treaty is successfully arrived at" by 2010, at the latest, the former U.S. vice president said. "We cannot continue at a slow pace,'' he added. "We must put a price on carbon."
The secretary general was more diplomatic, but no less forceful. "We need to ensure that such an agreement is in force by 2012," he said in closing remarks. But "undoubtedly there is a need for much deeper emission reductions from industrialized countries." He noted: "The cost of inaction will far outweigh the cost of action…. The current level of effort will not suffice."