S Korea-climate change

SEOUL, March 21 (Yonhap) -- The world is at grave risk from climate change, and massive floods, droughts and other natural disasters have "intolerable" impacts on global security, South Korea's vice foreign minister warned Thursday.

"The risks posed by the impacts of climate change such as frequent and intensive floods and droughts are real and have reached an intolerable level," Second Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul told a forum on climate change in Seoul.

"All these climate-induced risks, as a 'threat multiplier,' are exacerbating the social and economic crisis in states and regions that are already fragile and prone to conflict," Cho said.

About 200 nations held a high-level U.N. climate change conference in Doha, Qatar last November, extending a U.N. plan to combat global warming until 2020.

Rather than replacing the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that requires some 35 industrialized nations to cut their greenhouse gas emissions until the end of 2012, the nations extended the scheme until 2020, but many analysts say the extension is too weak to slow global warming.

When the Kyoto Protocol was adopted, South Korea was regarded as a developing nation and given no mandatory reduction requirement. In 2009, however, South Korea made a voluntary commitment to cut emissions by 30 percent from its business-as-usual level by 2020.

Cho urged the world to take a "holistic" action to fight global warming.

"Last year, we saw millions of people in the world devastated by another extreme flood in Thailand, coastal instability due to rising sea levels in Tuvalu, severe droughts in China and the worst cold snap in a quarter of a century in Europe," Cho said.

"As the impacts of climate change become stronger and more diverse, so too do the global responses that require a multi-disciplinary and holistic approach," the minister said.

"I firmly believe that now is the right time to build an effective partnership in the Asia-Pacific region," Cho said.

"This partnership should be a workable mechanism tapping our collective will, fully reflecting the perspective of climate security and translating all the wisdom into practical action," he said.

<All rights reserved by Yonhap News Agency>