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UN Official Supports Ambitious CO2 Reductions

August 25, 2009

The UN’s top climate scientist says he supports ambitious goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In an interview with AFP, Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said that his position does not allow him to make recommendations.

“But as a human being I am fully supportive of that goal. What is happening, and what is likely to happen, convinces me that the world must be really ambitious and very determined at moving toward a 350 target,” he said, referring to a goal to keep carbon dioxide levels below 350 parts per million (ppm).

The IPCC said in 2007 that in order to keep global temperatures from rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the year, carbon concentrations must be kept below 450 ppm.

“How that 2.0 degree limit is going to be obtained is something the G8 nations have not addressed so far,” Pachauri told AFP.

The IPCC has said that wealthy nations must adhere to commitments to reduced carbon emissions by 25-40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.

The European Union has been the only entity to come close to such reductions. Meanwhile, the US is continuing on a long-term goal of slashing CO2 emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

But while these goals may seem ambitious, many scientists are conducting studies to find that they may not be going far enough to negate the climate-changing rate of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) has been joined by the 49-strong bloc of Least Developed Countries in insisting that CO2 concentrations must be kept below 350 ppm.

“I think this is a good development,” said Pachauri.

“Now people — including some scientists — see the seriousness of the impacts of climate change, and the fact that things are going to get substantially worse than what we had anticipated.”

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