Climate Report Spurs Immediate Calls for Drastic, Speedy Change


ClimateReport Spurs Immediate Calls for Drastic, Speedy Change

2 February 2007

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Paris, France — The bleak outlook of a major new report onclimate change shifted the onus onto governments, even mankind, to stopprevaricating and truly act, with warnings Friday from around the world thatdrastic, rapid change is needed — not least from the United States.

“We are on the historic threshhold of theirreversible,” warned French President Jacques Chirac. He called for aneconomic and political “revolution” to save the planet.

Campaigners and governments pressed industrial nations, somespecifically naming the United States, to significantly cut greenhouse-gasemissions. Others said the threat was not simply to the environment, but tointernational peace, prosperity and development. There were immediate calls forurgent talks to hammer out a new worldwide agreement to stop global warming.

South Africa’s Environmental Affairs Minister Marthinus vanSchalkwyk said failure to act would be “indefensible.” His Indonesiancounterpart said “drastic steps” were needed to slow risingtemperatures.

“We are now beyond a critical turning point in the debate:those who continue to ignore the threat and its causes, or invoke half-bakedarguments to confuse and obstruct, will be doing the greatest disserviceimaginable to current and future generations,” van Schalkwyk said.

The long-awaited report from the Intergovernmental Panel onClimate Change said global warming is “unequivocal,” “very likely”man-made and will “continue for centuries” — findings bleaker thanits last report in 2001.

“If the last IPCC report was a wake up call, this one is ascreaming siren,” said Stephanie Tunmore, of Greenpeace.

“The good news is our understanding of the climate systemand our impact on it has improved immensely. The bad news is that the more weknow, the more precarious the future looks,” Tunmore said. “There’s aclear message to governments here, and the window for action is narrowingfast.”

The Indonesian minister, Rachmat Witoelar, has predicted thatsome 2,000 of Indonesia’s estimated 18,000 islands would be swallowed by the seawithin three decades because of man-made climate change.

“Developing countries must make binding commitments to cutemissions by 40 to 60 percent. And we in Indonesia must guard against theburning of our forests and better monitor our industries,” he said in thecapital, Jakarta, where days of torrential rain caused rivers to break theirbanks Friday, submerging streets in muddy water and inundating homes andbusinesses.

“We want to see our grandchildren enjoy the earth too,don’t we?”

Campaigners said emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gasesmust be reined in. Friends of the Earth said industrialized nations “mustlead the way” and help less-developed countries develop sustainable,low-carbon economies. The European Union’s environment commissioner, StavrosDimas, said that by 2020, developing nations should cut their emissions totwo-thirds of the level they were in 1990.

“Alarm bells are ringing. The world must wake up to thethreat,” said Catherine Pearce, of Friends of the Earth. “There isstill time to act, but urgent action is required.”

The South African minister said the report “is a wake-upcall to the world’s largest emitter, the United States.”

“There are no more doubts on humanity’s responsibilitiesand the conclusion is clear: man is the cause, and man is the solution,”said Roberto Della Seta, president of Legambiente, Italy’s main environmentalgroup. “Only urgent, immediate government action on a vast scale can avertcatastrophic consequences.”

Scientists hailed the report as a landmark. It makes clear thatsea levels will rise inexorably over coming centuries. “It is a question ofwhen and how much, and not if,” World Meteorological Organization SecretaryGeneral Michel Jarraud said.

Failure to act in light of the “unequivocal” newscientific evidence on global warming “will one day in the history books beconsidered irresponsible,” U.N. Environment Program executive directorAchim Steiner said.

“This new report should spur policymakers to get off thefence and put strong and effective policies in place to tackle greenhouse gasemissions,” he said. “The implications of global warming over thecoming decades for our industrial economy, water supplies, agriculture,biological diversity and even geopolitics are massive.”

(By JohnLeicester, Associated Press)

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