UN climate chief Christiana Figueres calls for global action amid NSW bushfires

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres calls for global action amid NSW bushfires

22 October 2013

published by http://au.news.yahoo.com

Australia — The United Nations says the New South Wales bushfires are an example of “the doom and gloom” the world may be facing without vigorous action on climate change.

The executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, says the fires prove the world is “already paying the price of carbon”.

“The World Meteorological Organisation has not established the direct link between this wildfire and climate change yet, but what is absolutely clear is that the science is telling us there are increasing heatwaves in Asia, Europe and Australia,” she told CNN.

“These [heatwaves] will continue. They will continue in their intensity and in their frequency.”

Her comments come after deputy Greens leader Adam Bandt was accused of politicising the bushfires, when he claimed the Government’s climate policies would lead to more fires in the future.

“It’s October and we’re having a tragic bushfire,” he said last week.

“Meanwhile, Tony Abbott and his ministers have been… saying that they’re going to take Australia backwards when it comes to combating global warming.”

Mr Bandt’s remarks prompted a rebuke from Environment Minister Greg Hunt.

“No one should be politicising these bushfires and I would say that respectfully to the gentleman in question,” he said.

But several the link between global warming and bushfires has been established and it is time for action.

The UN climate chief says footage from the fires should prompt international concern on climate.

“What we have seen are just introductions to the doom and gloom that we could be facing,” Ms Figueres said.

“But that’s not the only scenario. We could, as humankind, we could take vigorous action and we could have a very different scenario”

Direct Action ‘could be much more expensive’

Ms Figueres also criticised the Federal Government’s so-called Direct Action policy on climate change, saying it may prove more expensive than a carbon price.

“What the new Government in Australia has not done is it has not stepped away from its international commitment on climate change, so what they’re struggling with now is not what are they going to do but how are they going to get there,” she said.

The Government has vowed to scrap the carbon-pricing scheme and instead pursue a plan that involves a $3 billion emissions reduction fund.

“They’re going to have to pay a very high political price and a very high financial price,” Ms Figueres said.

“The route that they are choosing to get to the same target that the previous government had could be much more expensive for them and for the [Australian] population.”

She says that the world has very little time to minimise the impact of climate change.

“We are already paying the price of carbon. We’re paying the price with wildfires. We’re paying the price with droughts,” she told the network.

“We’re paying the price with so many other disturbances to the hydrological cycle. That is all the price we’re paying.

“So what we need to do is put a price on carbon so that we don’t have to continue to pay the price of carbon.”

Ms Figueres says in order to effectively combat climate change, global emissions must peak this decade and then begin a downward trajectory.

She says the world must reach zero net emissions by the second half of the century.

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