UN: Climate change crisis still preventable

04/01/2008

Urgent action is needed to curb greenhouse gas emissions to avoid catastrophic risks to future generations, the UNDP warns in a new report.

(FT, Bloomberg, Science Daily - 17/12/07; Reuters - 16/12/07; BBC, UN - 15/12/07; International Herald Tribune - 28/11/07; UNDP, AP, The Guardian, Bloomberg - 27/11/07)

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"There is only one world," European Commission President Jose Manual Barroso said. "Together, developed and developing countries can reach success."

Developed nations must take prompt action to cut emissions linked to global warming, to avoid ecological disaster that could affect the entire planet, the UNDP said in its Human Development Report (HDR) 2007/2008, released on November 27th.

"Climate change threatens a twin catastrophe, with early setbacks in human development for the world's poor being succeeded by longer term dangers for all of humanity," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted in the 400-page report.

While the poorest countries have contributed the least to the problem, their citizens will be the most greatly affected because they have the fewest resources to cope with it, said the authors of the study, Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World. But in the end, even the wealthiest nations will not be immune to the impact of global warming.

"Our current path offers a one-way route to ecological disaster," the report said, while acknowledging that uncertainties remain regarding the pace of global warming.

Developed nations, the HDR said, should provide 58 billion euros a year by 2015 to support programmes aimed at strengthening developing nations' capacities to cope with climate-related risks.

It also urged wealthy countries, which are most responsible for the accumulating carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, to target an emissions peak by 2015, with 30% cuts by 2020 and at least 80% cuts by 2050, compared to 1990 levels.

If the world fails to take appropriate actions within the next decade, a temperature increase of two degrees Celsius "could stall and then reverse human development" in the poorest countries, where 2.6 billion people live on 1.35 euros a day or less, the UNDP warned.

Building on recently released findings by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the HDR set the agenda for the Climate Change Conference, which began in Bali on December 3rd. The convention was attended by representatives of about 190 countries, as well as observers from NGOs, intergovernmental organisations and the media.

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Following several days of talks, a deal was reached on December 15th, after delegates accepted the IPCC's conclusions that climate change is occurring and that it is caused by rising greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activity.

The document that was drawn up at the conference is referred to as the "Bali roadmap." It calls for negotiations on four key areas -- mitigation, adaptation, technology and financing -- and sets late 2009 as the target for a new agreement to curb emissions.

Top international officials hailed the document.

"There is only one world," European Commission President Jose Manual Barroso said. "Together, developed and developing countries can reach success."

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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