Bleak Global Warming Report IssuedABC NewsReuters
By Jeff Mason
Apr 6, 2007
Apr 6, 2007 — BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Top climate experts issued their bleakest forecasts yet about global warming on Friday, ranging from hunger in Africa to a thaw of Himalayan glaciers in a study that may add pressure on governments to act.
More than 100 nations in the U.N. climate panel agreed a final text after all-night disputes during which some scientists accused governments of watering down forecasts about extinctions and other threats.
The report said change, widely blamed on human emissions of greenhouse gases, was already under way in nature and that desertification, droughts and rising seas would hit hard in the tropics, from sub-Saharan Africa to Pacific islands.
"It's the poorest of the poor in the world, and this includes poor people even in prosperous societies, who are going to be the worst hit," said Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
"This does become a global responsibility in my view," said Pachauri who added he was still wearing the same suit as on Thursday morning because of the marathon talks.
The IPCC groups 2,500 scientists and is the top world authority on climate change.
Its findings are approved unanimously by governments and will guide policy on issues such as extending the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol, the main U.N. plan for capping greenhouse gas emissions mainly from burning fossil fuels, beyond 2012.
"This further underlines both how urgent it is to reach global agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and how important it is for us all to adapt to the climate change that is already under way," said European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas.
"The urgency of this report, prepared by the world's top scientists, should be matched with an equally urgent response by governments," echoes Hans Verolme of the WWF conservation group.
Scientists said China, Russia and Saudi Arabia had raised most objections overnight seeking to tone down some findings. Other participants also said the United States, which pulled out of Kyoto in 2001 as too costly, had toned down some passages.
"Conflict is a hard word, tension is a better word," Gary Yohe, one of the lead authors, said of the mood at the talks.
China, the second largest source of greenhouse gases after the United States, sought to cut a reference to "very high confidence" that climate change was already affecting "many natural systems, on all continents and in some oceans."
But delegates sharpened other sections, including adding a warning that some African nations might have to spend 5 to 10 percent of gross domestic product on adapting to climate change.
Overall, the report was the strongest U.N. assessment yet of the threat of climate change, predicting water shortages that could affect billions of people and a rise in ocean levels that could go on for centuries.
It built on a previous IPCC report in February saying that human greenhouse gas emissions, mostly from burning fossil fuels, are very likely to be the main cause of recent warming.
That report also forecast that temperatures could rise by 1.8 to 4.0 Celsius (3.2 to 7.2 F) this century.
Friday's study also said climate change could cause hunger for millions with a sharp fall in crop yields in Africa. It could rapidly thaw Himalayan glaciers that feed rivers from India to China and bring heatwaves for Europe and North America.
U.S. delegates rejected suggested wording that parts of North America may suffer "severe economic damage" from warming.
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