UK URGES U.S. ACTION ON CLIMATE
UK URGES U.S. ACTION ON CLIMATE
2005-02-05 at 10:35:00 am #10061UK urges U.S. action on climate
EXETER, England — Britain appealed to the United States on Tuesday to sign up to climate-saving cuts in greenhouse gas emissions as environmentalists warned of approaching Armageddon.
Opening a three-day scientific meeting to assess the threat of global warming, environment minister Margaret Beckett said it was vital Washington become more involved.
“A significant impact is already inevitable — we need to act now to limit the scale of warming in the future and avoid even worse effects,” she said.
“We would like America to engage more fully with these discussions about where we might go in the future.”
America is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2), but rejects what is now majority scientific opinion that mankind is largely to blame for climate warming and has refused to join the Kyoto Protocol on curbing emissions.
Kyoto, which comes into force on February 16, aims to cut CO2 emissions by developed states by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.
U.S. President George W. Bush is seeking a less stringent target.
Washington’s aim is to cut the amount of greenhouse gas emissions for every dollar of economic output by 18 percent in 2012 compared to 2002. The economy is likely to grow at a faster pace, meaning overall emissions will rise.
Beckett, who said there was no doubt human activity contributed to climate warming, added there was no hope of persuading Bush to sign up to Kyoto.
What was imperative was to persuade the American administration and public to examine what to do after 2012.
“I don’t suggest that America will now join the Kyoto protocol,” she said. “But clearly it would have much more impact if we are able to re-engage America in considering what we can do in the longer term.”
Beckett said extreme weather events like droughts and floods were expected to become more frequent and worse, noting that the world had just experienced the 10 hottest years on record.
“Nothing less than a radical change in how we generate and how we use energy will be needed,” she said, adding that the cost of action would be far less than the cost of inaction.
Scientists have said that two degrees centigrade of warming is already expected.
They have predicted that above that level the warming will start to fuel itself, pushing the planet into the unknown as ice caps melt, sea levels rise and weather patterns change at accelerating rates.
The World Wide Fund for Nature said at the weekend that disastrous climate change could kick in within 20 years, leading to possible species wipeout in the Arctic unless greenhouse gas emissions were cut sharply.
A report by international experts last week described the climate as a ticking bomb, and preliminary results of one study said temperatures could rise by up to 11 degrees centigrade.
Scientists from 30 nations at the meeting will try to define what constitutes “dangerous” levels of warming but will not make any policy recommendationsAntarctic’s ice ‘melting faster’A team of UK researchers claims to have new evidence that global warming is melting the ice in Antarctica faster than had previously been thought.
Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey (Bas) say the rise in sea levels around the world caused by the melting may have been under-estimated.
It is thought that over 13,000 sq km of sea ice in the Antarctic Peninsula has been lost over the last 50 years.
The findings were announced at the Climate Change Conference in Exeter.
Rising sea level
Professor Chris Rapley, director of (Bas), told the conference that Antarctica could become a “giant awakened”, contributing heavily to rising sea levels.
Melting in the Antarctic Peninsula removes sea ice that once held back the movement of glaciers.
As a result, glaciers flow into the ocean up to six times faster than before.
The other region in the continent affected by the changes is West Antarctica where warmer sea water is thought to be eroding the ice from underneath.
In 2001, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted the average global sea level would rise by between 11cm (4.3in) and 77cm (30.3in) by 2100 – but forecast the Antarctic’s contribution would be small.
But over the past five years, studies have found that melting Antarctic ice caps contribute at least 15% to the current global sea level rise of 2mm (0.08in) a year.
It is not known whether the melting is the result of a natural event or the result of global warming.
Professor Rapley said that if this was natural variability it might be expected to be taking place in only a handful of places. However, studies had shown that it was happening in all three major ice stream in West Antarctica.
Several major sections of the Antarctic ice sheet have broken off in the past decade.
The Larsen A ice shelf, which measured 1,600 sq km, broke off in 1995. The 1,100 sq km Wilkins ice shelf fell off in 1998 and the 13,500 sq km Larsen B dropped away in 2002.