We can tackle global warming, says UN report

Nations have the money and technology to save the world from the worst ravages of global warming, but they must start acting immediately to succeed, experts at a United Nations climate conference agreed on Friday.

After five days of testy negotiations, the experts from 120 nations agreed on a report laying out proposals to fight climate change, which they said were cheap and easy enough for political leaders to act on right away.

”If we continue to do what we are doing now, we are in deep trouble,” said Ogunlade Davidson, co-chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which produced the report.

”This report is all about solutions to climate change,” Davidson said.

Environmental groups hailed the report as a victory for science over politics — after fierce debate among the delegates this week — and said the onus was now on governments to act without delay.

”WWF believes it is an historic moment here,” said Stephan Singer, a climate and energy specialist from the conservation organisation.

”It has been shown for the first time that stopping climate pollution in a very ambitious way does not cost a fortune … there is no excuse for any government to argue that it is going to cause their economy to collapse.”

The IPCC report presented a best-case scenario of limiting global warming to two to 2,4 degrees Celsius, generally recognised as the threshold when the most extreme ravages of climate change will begin.

Ramping up use of new technologies that do not emit greenhouse gases and increasing energy efficiency and other methods to achieve this target would shave less than 0,12% off world economic growth each year, it said.

To keep global warming in the best-case range, nations have to make sure that greenhouse gases — blamed for most of the world’s rising temperature — must start declining by 2015.

The report said greenhouse emissions would have to be cut to between 50% and 85% of year 2000 levels by 2050, and urged the greater use of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and hydro-power.

But throughout the week, delegates taking part in the closed-door talks said there was strong opposition to emissions caps led by China, which fears a slowdown in its surging economic growth.

Despite the haggling, however, negotiators and environmental groups insisted that the final report had not been watered down for political reasons.

”It came out much better than we thought,” the WWF’s Singer said. ”This is a victory of science over the fossil fuel industry [and] economic sceptics.”

The report is the third and last from the IPCC this year, after the first two looked into the evidence and looming devastating impacts of global warming.

Nuclear power, which was one of the points of debate, was also highlighted as one option global policymakers should consider.

Another important element was making people and industry pay for using fossil fuels. This and other economic mechanisms would make using fossil fuels more expensive and renewable energies much cheaper.

The IPCC report said individuals could do their part through lifestyle changes and stressed that the earlier the world took action, the greater the benefits would be.

”Mitigation efforts over the next two to three decades will have a large impact,” it said. — AFP



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