Saturday, 26 September 2009

UN: Pace of climate change quickens

As world leaders meet in New York, a new report from the U.N. says the pace of climate change is surpassing predictions.


The pace of climate change is exceeding the scientific community's worst-case scenarios . That's the grim bottom line from a new UN Environment Program report that says emissions already released into the atmosphere could lead to the loss of ecosystems and a more rapid spread of deserts from Africa to Asia.

The UN report comes as world leaders have been meeting at the UN General Assembly in New York and the G20 in Pittsburgh. One goal is breaking the global deadlock on how rich and developing countries will share the burdens of trying to slow global warming.

Earlier in the week U.S. President Barack Obama said the US is pursuing more aggressive climate policy but that efforts must be collective.

U.S. President Barack Obama saying:

"Those rapidly-growing developing nations that will produce nearly all the growth in global carbon emissions in the decades ahead must do their part as well. Some of these nations have already made great strides with the development and deployment of clean energy. Still, they will need to commit to strong measures at home and agree to stand behind those commitments just as the developed nations must stand behind their own."

And the Group of 20 did agree to phase out subsidies on oil and other fossil fuels over the "medium term", according to its communiqué.

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, at a news conference following the summit, said the eventual costs for the world will be much higher if nations do not address the threat of climate change.

Some worry though that the lack of a firm timetable and the failure to make progress on financing for poor countries may hinder how much progress can be made at the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen in December

Meanwhile, experts have been meeting at the United Nations desertification conference in Argentina this week where they said land degradation and desert threatens two billion people worldwide.

They warned that unless policy action is taken immediately, freak weather incidents like the huge outback dust storm that blanketed Sydney earlier this week will occur more frequently as the "perfect storm" of climate change gathers momentum.

Manoush Zomorodi, Reuters, New York