Chief scientist urges inking of global climate deal

Says world cannot afford delays

PETRE WILLIAMS-RAYNOR Reporting from Copenhagen, Denmark

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

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THE high-stakes global climate change conference kicked off here yesterday with scientist Dr Rajendra Pachauri urging countries to sign off on a comprehensive deal to halt the fallout from a changing climate.

Quoting from the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the leading climate research body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which he chairs, Pachauri said there was no time to waste.

“One of the most significant findings of the AR4 was conveyed by two simple but profound statements: ‘Warming of the climate system is unequivocal as is now evident from observations of increase in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global sea level’; and ‘most of the observed increase in temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG (greenhouse gas) concentrations’,” he said.
 
Pachauri, who spoke during the opening ceremony held at the Bella Centre, added that since the 2007 Bali discussions in 2007 — ahead of which the AR4 was released — countries had adequate opportunity to “further study, debate and discuss the findings” and determine required actions.

“This conference must therefore now lead to actions for implementation by all parties, taking into account their common but differentiated responsibilities,” noted Pachauri, who is also director general of the Energy Resources Institute.

He said “the conference must also lead to urgent initiation of large-scale mitigation actions”, emphasising that as the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) lays down, this must involve action in the developed countries, because “the developed country parties must take the lead in combating climate change and adverse effects thereof”.
According to Pachauri, there is no disputing the benefits of such a move.

“To limit the average temperature increase at 2.0 and 2.4 degrees Celsius, the cost of mitigation by 2030 would not exceed three per cent of global GDP (gross domestic product)… Further, mitigation carries many co-benefits, such as lower levels of air pollution and associated health benefits, higher energy security, larger employment and stable agricultural production, as well as greater food security,” he noted.

The world, Pachauri insisted, cannot afford any delays.

“The evidence is now overwhelming that the world would benefit greatly from early action and that delay would only lead to costs in economic and human terms that would become progressively high. The IPCC has been able to provide substantial evidence through its assessments that science provides us with a basis for undertaking changes that this conference must urgently initiate,” he said.

Connie Hedegaard, climate and energy minister, and president for the conference, also urged countries to arrive at an agreement at the two weeks of the negotiations.

“Let’s get it done. This is the time to deliver. This is the place to commit. And yes, there are still many obstacles. But it is up to us to overcome them, and it is do-able,” she said. “Denmark is committed to maximum progress in the two tracks — the Convention track and the Kyoto Protocol and to ensure successful and ambitious outcomes. To get it done, the science has never been clearer. The solutions have never been more abundant. Political will has never been and let me warn you, political will will never be stronger. This is our chance. If we miss it, it could take years before we get a new and better one.”

Hedegaard was referring to the recent announcements by Brazil, China, India, among others, of their intent to cut carbon emissions below 2005 levels.

Executive director of the UNFCCC, Yvo de Boer, emphasised the urgency for action. “The clock has ticked down to zero. After two years of negotiations, the time has come to deliver… The time for formal statement is over”, Boer said.


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