Fw: [fuelcell-energy] 20 years left to achieve climate stability - sci entist
- Fw: [fuelcell-energy]
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20 years left to achieve climate stability - scientist
A leading Australian scientist believes that the world has just 20
years to turn the tide on global warming and that leaders at a summit
in Sydney next week must take concrete steps to tackle the problem.
Tim Flannery, a respected Australian scientist and author, says the
world's economic powerhouses must take drastic measures over the next
two decades before the Earth's climate is irreversibly altered.
"We have to make deep, deep reductions in emissions within the next
20 years," he said. "We will have won or lost the battle for climate
stability in that time."
Flannery's projection is based on the period he says it will take �
at current emissions levels � to pump out enough carbon dioxide to
warm the globe by around two degrees, producing "catastrophic"
Prof. Will Steffen, the director of environmental studies at
Canberra's respected Australian National University, said Flannery's
prediction is a "worst case" scenario, but is "not impossible".
"Certainly we're seeing evidence of global warming. The evidence is
quite clear now that the planet is warming compared to the baseline
temperature change over the last few thousand years," Steffen
said. "It's been warming quite rapidly over the last century and
particularly over the last couple of decades, those observations are
Next week, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to
meet top-level officials from Australia, China, India, South Korea
and Japan to discuss ways of tackling the issue.
Along with the US these countries account for nearly half the world's
population, energy and economic output.
The White House says the talks will enhance rather than replace the
1997 Kyoto Protocol on global warming that both the US and Australia
rejected because of its mandatory cuts in carbon dioxide, methane and
The Kyoto treaty calls for 35 industrialised countries to cut their
1990 emissions levels by at least 5% by 2012.
China and India signed the treaty as developing nations, exempting
them from the first round of emissions cuts. Japan must cut emissions
by 6% below 1990 levels, and South Korea by 5%.
So far, little is known about the goals of the "Asia-Pacific
Partnership on Clean Development and Climate."
In July, the group issued a vision statement that talks of
developing, deploying and transferring technologies such as nuclear
power and clean coal technology in which greenhouse gases are
extracted and eliminated while burning coal.
Environmental group Greenpeace slammed next week's meeting as
"As might be expected from a pact between six of the world's biggest
coal exporters and users, this appears to be a deal to do nothing,"
the group said in a briefing statement. "At this stage, it contains
no provisions to reduce greenhouse pollution. With no targets,
timetables or even financial mechanisms, it can have no hope of
meeting its stated objective � assisting the development and transfer
of climate-friendly technology."
Earlier this week, James Connaughton, Chairman of the White House
Council on Environmental Quality, said the partnership would drum up
more private investment for goals including US and Chinese plans to
improve energy efficiency in coal-burning power plants and cut acid
rain-causing sulphur dioxide emissions.
"I'd say that's wonderful news � and how will it be done?" said
Flannery, responding to Connaughton's remarks.
Flannery said there is "no evidence in the world today" that a
voluntary program to reduce greenhouse emissions could work. Only
government regulation or "market-based instruments" � such as carbon
taxes, incentives and government subsidies on green energy � would
have the necessary impact, he said.
Frank Muller, a former adviser to US President Bill Clinton and the
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, agrees.
"We need a price on carbon if its really going to drive investment,
whether that's a carbon tax or emissions trading," he said. "You
(also) need to address specific barriers to the adoption of existing
(energy efficient) technologies."
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