January 14, 2009

Experts Urge Comprehensive Changes To Global Emissions By 2050

The Worldwatch Institute released a new report on Tuesday that advises sweeping changes must be made to limit global emissions by 2050.

In its report, titled "State of the World 2009: Into A Warming World," authors say that even a small increase of up to 3.6 degrees F in global temperatures could result in dangerous threats to natural systems.

In order to avoid these threats, the report says that world carbon emissions will have to drop to near zero by 2050 and "go negative" after that.

"Global warming needs to be reduced from peak levels to 1 degree (Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) as fast as possible," said co-author William Hare. "At this level you can see some of the risks fade into the background."

Since 1850, global temperatures have increased by 1.4 degrees F, Hare said, adding that immediate radical changes are imperative.

The report's findings are based on those of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The IPCC stated that "warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level."

Authors also noted that 11 of the last 12 years have been among the 12 warmest years ever recorded in terms of global surface temperature.

Authors concluded in the report that greenhouse gas emissions need to peak before 2020 and decrease drastically until 2050.

In a foreword to the Worldwatch report, Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri cited disappointments with policymakers.

"It is profoundly disappointing, for example, that although the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) came into existence in 1992 it took five more years to provide the convention with an agreement that could be implemented-the Kyoto Protocol," said Pachauri.

Pachauri went on to note that Kyoto Protocol, which required ratification by a minimum number of countries accounting for a specific share of greenhouse gas emissions, did not enter into force until 16 February 2005.

"All of this, unfortunately, provides a sad commentary on the importance that the global community has accorded the problem so far," Pachauri said.

Authors said it is still possible to halt climate change through initiatives involving renewable technologies and efficient living.

"Sealing the deal to save the global climate will require mass public support and worldwide political will to shift to renewable energy, new ways of living, and a human scale that matches the atmosphere's limits," said Robert Engelman, vice president for programs at the Worldwatch Institute.

"However this turns out, we still have some precious time and a clear shot at safely managing human-induced climate change," Engelman said. "What's at stake is not just nature as we've always known it, but quite possibly the survival of our civilization. It's going to be a really interesting year."


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