SANTIAGO (AFP) — UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged swift action on global warming on the eve of a visit Friday to the Antarctic to see the effects of climate change first-hand.
"Galvanizing international action on global warming is one of my main priorities as secretary general," Ban said Thursday in the capital of Chile alongside the country's president, Michelle Bachelet.
"We must be actively engaged in confronting the global challenge of climate change, which is a serious threat to development everywhere," he said.
Ban's trip to the planet's southernmost continent will be a first for a UN secretary general.
He and Bachelet are to fly to a Chilean research base in Antarctica to speak to scientists who are examining the effects of industry and pollution on the polar ice cap.
First, though, they will stop off in Punta Arenas, a town in southern Chile that sits under the hole in the ozone layer, the protective strata in the atmosphere that has been eaten away by chlorine-based chemicals.
On his way back from Antarctica, Ban will inspect glaciers in Chile's Torres del Paine national park that have been melting.
He will then go on to Brazil to have a look at the Amazon forest, which is being increasingly encroached upon by man.
The Antarctic visit comes as a 1959 treaty aimed at staving off territorial claims on the continent is under challenge, driven by speculation that precious oil reserves may lie there.
Chile in September said it plans to claim sovereignty over parts of the seabed off Antarctica, following similar announcements by Argentina and Britain.
China on Wednesday said it was beefing up its scientific personnel in Antarctica and expanding its facilities there.
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