March 6, 2006
Global warming evidence grows -U.N. expert
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent
OSLO (Reuters) - Evidence that humans are to blame for
global warming is rising but governments are doing too little
to counter the threat, the head of the United Nations climate
panel said on Monday.
Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change (IPCC), also said that costs of braking
climate change in coming decades might be less than forecast in
the IPCC's last report in 2001.
"If one looks at just the scientific evidence that's been
collected it's certainly becoming far more compelling. There is
no question about it," he told Reuters of research since 2001
into a link between human emissions of greenhouse gases and
Pachauri was more forthright than at the last U.N. climate
meeting in Montreal, Canada, in December, when he declined to
say whether there was clearer scientific evidence that human
activities were to blame.
The last IPCC report in 2001 said there was "new and
stronger evidence" that gases released by burning fossil fuels
in power plants, factories and cars were warming the planet.
Warming may herald catastrophic climate changes such as
more heatwaves, droughts, floods and rising sea levels.
The IPCC, grouping research by about 2,000 scientists, will
present its next report to the United Nations in 2007. The
report is the mainstay for environmental policy-making.
Still, Pachauri said it was too early to draw exact
A BBC report last week said the IPCC would say in 2007 that
"only" greenhouse gas emissions can explain freak weather
patterns. "That's premature because the report is still nowhere
near completion," he said.
Pachauri said the world needed to do more.
"Given the gravity of the situation and the importance of
taking action I hope that the global community will move a
little more rapidly with some future agreements," he said.
The U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol, which obliges industrial nations
to cut greenhouse gas emissions, entered into force last year
after years of wrangling and weakened by a U.S. pullout.
Pachauri said people living in island states such as the
Maldives in the Indian Ocean, Tuvalu in the Pacific or
low-lying countries such as Bangladesh were among those most at
"They are living in a state of fear," he said. "We must
understand the reasons behind their fears. We're really talking
about their very existence, the complete devastation of the
land on which they're living."
And cities from New York to Shanghai, from Buenos Aires to
London, could also be swamped by rising seas.
The IPCC report says that costs of curbing greenhouse gases
in the toughest case could delay world growth from reaching
projected 2050 levels until 2051 or 2052.
"That's not a heavy price to pay," he said in a speech at
Oslo university. "Personally I think these (IPCC) projections
He said more U.S. companies, cities and states were acting
to cap greenhouse gas emissions even though President George W.
Bush pulled the United States out of Kyoto in 2001, saying it
was too costly and wrongly excluded developing nations.
"I think (U.S. action) is going to gather momentum," he
said. He noted that even Bush had said in January that the
United States was "addicted to oil."