Climate change talks kick off in Kenya

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SCOTT JAGOW: Representatives from 189 countries have gathered in Nairobi, Kenya for a conference on global warming. The United Nations organized this meeting. One of the things on the agenda is getting the U.S. to join the Kyoto Protocol. President Bush has refused to send it to the Senate for ratification. He says it would hurt the U.S. economy. But many poorer countries, in Africa, for example, are worried about the impact of climate change on their economies. Gretchen Wilson reports from Johannesburg.

GRETCHEN WILSON: Ironically, the Kenyan conference will convene only 100 miles from Mount Kilimanjaro, where the ice that’s crowned Africa’s highest peak for more than 11,000 years is rapidly melting.

Researchers say it’s just one example of what’s to come in Africa. Dr. Emma Archer is a scientist at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

DR. EMMA ARCHER: “Africa is profoundly vulnerable to climate change in a number of different sectors.”

Agriculture is one of these sectors, and Archer says crops, staple grains, and livestock are generally expected to be negatively affected by temperature increases. That means poor and rural Africans will be less able to cope.

ARCHER: “For example, if you are deriving some of your living from an activity that’s water-dependent, climate change is projected to make that much more difficult”.

Observers expect today’s talks to heat up. Leaders will consider a new timetable for curbing greenhouse gas emissions produced mostly by the developed world.

In Johannesburg, I’m Gretchen Wilson for Marketplace.

All reporting by Gretchen L. Wilson, © 2006

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