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Despite Perils UN Report Upbeat On Climate Change

Renewable energies, such as wind, solar and biofuel, were highlighted as an important part of the mix, while the experts said putting a price on using the fossil fuels that produce greenhouse gases was important.
by Emmanuel Angleys
Bangkok (AFP) May 06, 2007
After two grim warnings on the impact of climate change, the world's top experts were unusually upbeat in assessing ways to protect the Earth, but said that national leaders have no time to waste. The report delivered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN's top authority on the subject which met in Bangkok last week, said humanity could at least slow global warming with existing, affordable technology.

But the experts warned that time was of the essence to ward off the most destructive effects of climate change.

"We believe that human beings are capable of reducing the problems that we may get on climate change," Ogunlade Davidson, the co-chair of the meeting, told AFP.

"The only difficulty is to get the political will to do that," he said.

The report following the IPCC's Bangkok meeting was its third of the year.

The first, released in Paris in February, found it highly likely that global temperatures would rise by 1.8 to 4.0 degrees Celsius (3.2 to 7.2 Farenheit) over the next century.

However, it also warned that temperatures could even climb by 6.4 degrees C (11.52 F).

A second report in Brussels in April highlighted the catastrophic damage that global warming could cause, including the extinction of up to 30 percent of animal and plant life.

The first two reports offered little good news, but this one is different, said Davidson.

"The third assessment says there are possible solutions and you can do it at a reasonable cost," he said.

The options laid out covered simple measures like switching to energy efficient light bulbs and adjusting the thermostat in the office.

But they also included extremely controversial and complex techniques such as nuclear power, and the storing of carbon dioxide -- the major greenhouse gas -- underground instead of letting it spew into the atmosphere.

Renewable energies, such as wind, solar and biofuel, were highlighted as an important part of the mix, while the experts said putting a price on using the fossil fuels that produce greenhouse gases was important.

The 400 delegates from some 120 countries who met last week in Bangkok were tasked with drafting a summary of their extensive research to guide policymakers in deciding how to tackle climate change.

"We will be forced to take decisions, because information about (the risks of) inaction is getting ... to many people," Davidson said.

Stephan Singer, European head of climate and energy with the World Wildlife Fund, said the report showed "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," he said, adding that political leaders needed to be pressed to take action "starting Monday."

According to the report, taking measures to stop global temperatures from rising more than about 2.0 degrees C (3.6 F) would shave only around 0.12 percentage points off annual global economic growth in the coming decades.

Greenpeace said the report demanded a "serious political response" from world leaders.

"I think that we could use many of the elements in this document" during the next round of multilateral talks on climate change, Marc Gillet, the head of the French delegation, told AFP.

Climate change is expected to be among the top priorities on the agenda when leaders of the world's most industrialised countries meet at the Group of Eight Summit in Germany in June.

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas has already called for new talks on a climate change pact at a UN ministerial meeting set for December on the Indonesian holiday island of Bali.

European nations hope the United States and rapidly developing countries like Brazil, India and China -- which did not join the existing Kyoto Protocol on climate change -- will agree to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases under a new accord.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Question Marks Over Commitment By China Climate Change Mitigation
Bangkok (AFP) May 06, 2007
Huge questions remain over China's commitment and ability to combat global warming after the surging Asian power bruised and cajoled but also charmed delegates at a UN conference, observers said. China was one of the nations most under focus at the climate change meeting in Bangkok that wrapped up on Friday with a message that the world had just a few years to act if it was to avert the worst impacts of global warming.

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