Many environmental and sustainable energy groups say that a global report on greenhouse gas emissions is proof of the need to reduce the combustion of fossil fuels as an energy source.
VANCOUVER, Canada – The report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) cites numerous and specific impacts of climate change, including disruptions to water supply, human health risks from air pollution, more frequent and extreme weather events such as floods, heat waves, droughts and windstorms, and threats to wildlife and fish. The IPCC is the key scientific body organized by the United Nations and the World Meteorological Society to provide analysis to governments and international agencies. “The world’s most authoritative scientific body on climate change is again telling us that the global warming trend is having immense and negative consequences on weather patterns, on economic activities, on human health and on nature as a whole,” says Gerry Scott of the David Suzuki Foundation in Canada. “This report clearly underlines the need for a bold response from Ottawa, provincial governments and industry.” “The Canadian government is still trying to blame Europe for stalled climate treaty negotiations and is still emphasizing massive expansion of fossil fuel production and use,” he adds. “Clearly, this is taking us in the wrong direction.” Canada is on the front line of these climate change impacts because many Canadian communities depend on natural resource use, including First Nations, he explains. Canada has the world’s longest shoreline and is vulnerable to rising sea levels, and Canada’s Arctic is already feeling the impact of global warming, especially sensitive species such as polar bears and caribou. “We need substantive and forceful action from government and industry leaders,” adds Scott. “The sooner we get started, the greater the chance of mitigating the worst of the global warming impacts.” The poorest and least adaptable parts of the world will suffer most from climate change over the next century, warns the IPCC report. The report was unanimously accepted by 160 delegates from 100 governments who met in Geneva to consider new data on global warming and its impact on the environment. The report is 1,000 pages long and took three years to prepare by 425 authors from around the world. It was reviewed by 440 government experts. “The new IPCC report has powerful implications for how we deal with poverty and sustainable development over the coming decades,” adds Michael Zammit Cutajar of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. “This report is a timely reminder that we need to pay more attention to the costs of inaction, and that the costs of action to cut emissions are just part of the climate change equation.” In Britain, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott urged world leaders to heed calls for action on climate change as a result of the report. “This report and others from the IPCC show that it is vital that we redouble our efforts to achieve a successful conclusion to international negotiations on tackling climate change,” he adds. “We understand more than ever about the potential impacts of climate change, and we know enough now to convince us that we must act. The new report shows that we risk major irreversible changes unless we significantly cut emissions of greenhouse gases.” The IPCC will soon release its third assessment to highlight some responses to climate change, including ratification of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. That 1997 protocol committed developed countries to reduce GHG emissions to 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The European Community agreed jointly to a reduction of 8 percent, with Britain agreeing to a reduction of 12.5 percent. Prescott says Britain will be one of the few developed countries to meet the target, and the government has introduced a range of measures to cut emissions, including a Climate Change Levy and national target for 10 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2010 “subject to the cost to consumers being acceptable.” In Australia, environment minister Robert Hill says the world must heed the predictions on climate change from the report. “The message is clear: Governments around the world must work together to cut greenhouse emissions and develop strategies to adapt to climate change,” he says. “We have committed almost $1 billion over five years … and are funding initiatives that will significantly boost our use of renewable energy as well as pursuing greater energy efficiency.”