Finnish PM urges rich nations to take lead on climate change

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Finnish Prime Minister Matti VanhanenTOKYO (AFP) – Finland’s Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen on Monday urged developed countries to take the lead in reducing greenhouse gas emissions while helping emerging economies with clean energy technologies.

“Competition for vital natural resources, in particular water, may further intensify in many parts of the world as a result of changing weather patterns. This is likely to lead to increasing local and regional strife,” he said.

While all countries must tackle climate change, industrialised nations have a historical responsibility for the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere, Vanhanen told a press conference during a visit to Tokyo.

“It is the developed world that has to lead by example,” he said.

Developing countries, especially the major emerging economies, must contribute to the fight, but they will need financial support and the transfer of green technologies from developed countries, he said.

He spoke hours before Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda unveiled a new plan to help Asia’s largest economy slash emissions.

Rich and poor nations are divided on what action to take to tackle climate change, despite growing fears that global warming could cause the extinction of some plants and animals within the century and put millions of people at risk.

Vanhanen expressed concern about the recent surge in world oil prices, which he said were “really high” and might rise further.

“It will affect the economy. We can be sure about it. In the longer period, we see very clearly that energy demand will increase. We cannot see that there will be much more new production of oil or gas.”

He said way forward was to improve energy efficiency and make greater use of clean and renewable energy sources, adding, “We don’t have any other answers.”

Oil prices posted their biggest one-day gain on Friday, hitting a new record of 138.54 dollars a barrel in New York, up fivefold since 2003 amid supply worries and rising demand in emerging economies.

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