U.N. Official Urges Action to Limit Emissions From Coal

Christiana Figueres, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary, speaks during a press conference in Mexico City, on March 24, 2011.  (National Journal)

U.N. Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres on Monday warned that a failure to cut greenhouse-gas emissions from the use of coal would speed the pace of global warming, The New York Times reports.

Speaking at the World Coal Summit in Warsaw, Poland, an event taking place at the same time as the U.N. climate talks, Figueres called on coal-industry executives to take the lead in making coal a cleaner-burning fuel.

"It is abundantly clear that further capital expenditures on coal can only go ahead if they are compatible with the 2-degree Celsius limit," Figueres said, referring to a pledge made by signatories of a 2010 U.N. climate treaty not to let global temperatures climb higher than an additional 2 degrees Celsius.

While Figueres acknowledged that coal is not likely to vanish overnight, she urged immediate action to limit its emissions profile.

"Let me be clear from the outset that my joining you today is neither a tacit approval of coal use, nor is it a call for the immediate disappearance of coal," the executive secretary said. "But I am here to say that coal must change rapidly and dramatically for everyone's sake."