Climate ready for change of policy

Part of the solution is already at our fingertips. What is missing, it seems, is the will of governments to put the technologies that could be used to cut emissions of greenhouse gases into action.

Part of the solution is already at our fingertips. What is missing, it seems, is the will of governments to put the technologies that could be used to cut emissions of greenhouse gases into action.

Environmentalists hope yesterday's confirmation from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that much more can be done and without bankrupting industrialised countries - will compel those in power to take immediate action - before it really is too late.

But, according to the report, it is not just about boosting renewable energy; reducing deforestation and improving energy efficiency also have a part to play - the latter, in particular, something that everyone can get involved in.

Speaking from Bangkok, IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri described the report as "stunning".

"Human society as a whole has to look for changes in consumption patterns," he told reporters.

However, will a wordy report really be enough to garner those already dragging their feet?

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Marcus Armes, from the Norfolk-born CRed carbon reduction campaign, said: "The report confirms that we have the technical means in our grasp to tackle climate change and that the cost of doing so will not have a major impact on the UK or global economy, which this is very much in line with the recent report by leading economist Sir Nicholas Stern.

"We are delighted that the report also emphasises the importance of behavioural change and energy efficiency in cutting emissions, as we don't have to leave this to government as we can all make a difference by using energy more intelligently.

"Certainly CRed, working on the behavioral and energy efficiency elements, and our sister programme Carbon Connections, working on the development of low carbon technologies, will be looking to play a central role in delivering the deep cuts in carbon which the IPCC report believes are so important to a secure future for our planet."

This is the third of four reports due out this year; the first established that climate change is happening while the second looked at the impacts, adaptation and vulnerability.

The latest report suggests that if major impacts are to be avoided, global emissions should peak and begin to decline within one or two decades.

Friends of the Earth's international climate campaigner Catherine Pearce said: "Decisions taken now will have huge implications for the long-term stabilisation of our climate. This report shows that many affordable technologies and effective policies are readily available to tackle the problem.

"By introducing measures and investment that will stimulate sustainable renewable energies and energy efficiency, governments can help to achieve cuts in global emissions by 50pc by 2050.

"Without this, we face devastating consequences. Beyond their contribution to reducing emissions, sustainable renewable energies are known to have other positive impacts, such as helping to alleviate poverty, promoting energy security and reduce toxic pollution.

"This report recognises the need for action at the international level, with all countries playing their part.

"Governments must use the UN talks in Bali in December to begin negotiations on a more effective and stronger second round of Kyoto commitments and have a timetable for completion by the end of 2009."

Greenhouse gas emissions have risen by 70pc since 1970 and will rise between 25pc and 90pc in the next 25 years if things remain as they are.

During the early part of the week, China tried to water down language on cutting emissions but consensus was eventually reached by the panel, a network of 2,000 scientists and delegates from more than 120 nations.

The two previous reports warned that unabated greenhouse gas emissions could drive global temperatures up as much as 6C (11F) by 2100.

Even a 2C (3.6-degree-Fahrenheit) rise could subject up to 2bn people to water shortages by 2050 and threaten extinction for 20pc to 30pc of the world's species, the IPCC said.

The report makes clear the world must quickly embrace a basket of technological options - both already available and developing -- just to keep the temperature rise to 2C (3.6F).

Many technologies could be used, the IPCC says, but it singles out the building sector, which has the potential to make energy efficiency key.

Carlie Kronick, Greenpeace UK's senior climate campaigner, said: "Action to cut greenhouse gas emissions is now the great calling of our time. This year the world's leading scientists have told us it's happening, we're causing it and it's a huge threat to our species.

"Now they're saying we can act to prevent the worst impacts without breaking the bank, the technology already exists, but we have to start now. This report should be top of Gordon Brown's summer reading list."

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