World must fix climate in less than 10 years: UNDP
Reuters, Nov. 27, 2007
Unless the international community agrees to cut carbon emissions by half over the next generation, climate change is like to cause large-scale ecological catastrophes, a United Nations report says.
The UN Human Development report issued one of the strongest warnings yet of the lasting impacts of climate change on living standards and a strong call for urgent collective action.
"We could be on the edge of seeing human development reverse for the first time in 30 years," Kevin Watkins, author of the report, told Reuters.
The report, to be presented in
Emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere help trap heat and lead to global warming.
"The message for Bali is the world cannot afford to wait, it has less than a decade to change course," said Watkins, a senior research fellow at
Dangerous climate change will be unavoidable if in the next 15 years emissions follow the same trend as the past 15 years, the report says.
To avoid catastrophic impact, the rise in global temperature must be limited to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius). But carbon emissions from cars, power plants and deforestation in
Climate change threatens to condemn millions of people to poverty, the UNDP says. Climate disasters between 2000 and 2004 affected 262 million people, 98 percent of them in the developing world. The poor are often forced to sell productive assets or save on food, health, and education, creating "life-long cycles of disadvantage."
A temperature rise of between 5.4 and 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (3 and 4 degrees Celsius) would displace 340 million people through flooding, droughts would diminish farm output, and retreating glaciers would cut off drinking water from as many as 1.8 billion people, the report says.
Countries have the technical ability and financial resources but lack the political will to act, the report says. It singles out the
PROPOSED ROAD MAP
The world needs to spend 1.6 percent of global economic output annually through 2030 to stabilize the carbon stock and meet the 3.6-degree Fahrenheit temperature target. Rich countries, the biggest carbon emitters, should lead the way and cut emissions at least 30 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. Developing nations should cut emissions 20 percent by 2050, the UNDP says.
"When people in an American city turn on their air-conditioning or people in Europe drive their cars, their actions have consequences ... linking them to rural communities in
The UNDP recommends a series of measures including improved energy efficiency for appliances and cars, taxes or caps on emissions, and the ability to trade allowances to emit more. It said an experimental technology to store carbon emissions underground was promising for the coal industry, and suggested technology transfer to coal-dependent developing countries like
An international fund should invest between $25 billion and $50 billion annually in low-carbon energy in developing countries.
Asked whether the report was alarmist, Watkins said it was based on science and evidence: "I defy anybody to speak to the victims of droughts and floods, like we did, and challenge our conclusions on the long-term impact of climate disasters."
2007. Copyright Environmental News Network