Monday, February 9, 2009

Emergency talks called on 'harder' climate change

  • David Adam, London, for The Age, Melbourne Australia
  • February 10, 2009
  • Page 1 of 2 | Single Page View

SCIENTISTS are to hold an emergency summit to warn the world's politicians they are being too timid in their response to global warming.

Climate experts from around the world will gather in Copenhagen next month to agree on a stark message to policymakers that, they hope, will break the political deadlock on efforts to curb rising temperatures.

The meeting follows "disturbing" studies that suggest global warming could strike harder and faster than expected.

It comes ahead of a year of high-level political discussions on climate change that will climax with international negotiations in Copenhagen in December, when officials will try to hammer out a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Marine biologist Katherine Richardson of the University of Copenhagen, who is organising next month's event, said: "This is not a regular scientific conference. This is a deliberate attempt to influence policy."

The meeting will publish an update to the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Professor Richardson said the IPCC report was "wishy-washy" on issues such as sea level rise.

"The IPCC talks of a 40-centimetre sea rise this century. Well, if the consensus now is a rise of a metre or more, then they need to know that," she said.

A number of studies published since the IPCC report was prepared show carbon emissions are rising faster than expected and the present greenhouse gas targets may not be enough to prevent catastrophic temperature rise.

Climate experts, including Jim Hansen of the US space agency Nasa, have warned about so-called "tipping points" that could lead to runaway warming and rapid sea level rise.

Bob Watson, a former head of the IPCC and chief scientist in Defra, the British Government's environment department, said: "Certainly in Defra they're aware of the situation. Whether all governments are aware of it is another matter.

"Even without the new information, there was enough to make most policymakers think that urgent action was absolutely essential. The new information only strengthens that and pushes it even harder." Continued...

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