UN Chief Ban Ki-Moon Visits California

The Associated Press
Friday, July 27, 2007; 2:13 AM

SAN FRANCISCO -- United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the United States to take the lead in combating global warming during a visit to California to learn about the state's campaign to curb its greenhouse gas emissions.

"The whole planet Earth is at a crucial juncture," Ban said Thursday at an event organized by the World Affairs Council of Northern California. "Time is of essence. The cost of inaction will be far greater than the cost of action."

Ban, who served as South Korea's foreign minister before he became U.N. chief in January, arrived in San Francisco on Thursday for a two-day visit of the Bay Area.

At the World Affairs Council event, he said he has made climate change a top priority of his tenure as secretary-general and has invited world leaders, including President Bush, to attend a high-level U.N. conference to discuss the issue in September.

The U.N. "should be at the forefront of generating strong political will" needed to confront global warming, but the United States _ a major emitter of greenhouse gasses and a leader in technological innovation _ is in the best position to bring change, he said.

"If you take leadership, I think we can save this planet earth from plunging into a very difficult situation," Ban told an audience of 1,300.

California has become a world leader in confronting climate change with its efforts to promote renewable energy, boost energy efficiency and develop cleaner technologies. Last year, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation that made California the first state to impose a statewide cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

Ban was scheduled to meet with Schwarzenegger on Friday and tour a Silicon Valley company that develops technology to help businesses conserve energy.

© 2007 The Associated Press